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1833     —     1866 

OE   THE    STOEY    OF 

The  last  to  live  the  simple  life,  toiling,  spinning,  weaving, 
Cooking  'round  the  open  fire;  with  axe  and  gun  retrieving 
Nature's  products  from  the  soil,  the  wild-wood  half  concealing; 
Swinging  cradles  night  and  day,  such  human  love  revealing; 
Those  "early  leaders  opening  up  the  way"  for  coming  neighbors, 
Who   gave   for   us,   their  coming   sons,   their   lives,   their  loves, 
their  labors. 



published  undee  the  auspices  of  the 
Eaton  County  Pioneee  and  Histoeical  Society 


Frank  N.  Green,  Cynthia  A.  Green,  J.  Sumner  Hamlin,  Frank  A.  Ells 
Publishing   Committee. 

COPYKIGHT,    1923,    BY    DANIEL    STRANGE. 

The  Charlotte  Republican  Print. 
H.  T.  McGrath  and  M.  H.  DeFoe. 


This  book  lias  been  published  for  the  benefit  of 
the  people  of  Eaton  County,  who  through  life's  an- 
cestral chain  are  lovingly  linked  to  the  past.  Its 
pages  cover  portions  of  the  history  of  the  county  in- 
cluding a  third  of  a  century,  but  they  make  no 
claim  of  entire  completeness.  If  power  were  given 
the  narrator  a  complete  detailed  history  would 
resurrect  and  reveal  all  of  the  myriad  of  hardships, 
privations,  afflictions,  reverses  and  solemn  visita- 
tions as  endured  by  the  pioneers,  who  leaving  al- 
ready settled  communities,  wended  their  way  into 
the  primeval  Michigan  forests  to  carve  out  homes 
and  enlarge  the  borders  of  civilization. 

Such  a  reflection  of  a  past  generation  cannot  be 
reproduced  in  completeness.  The  impotence  of  mere 
words  render  its  impossible. 

But  these  pages  as  compiled  and  written  cover- 
ing the  early  history  of  Eaton  County  by  Hon. 
Daniel  Strange  of  Oneida,  a  life-long  resident  and 
pioneer,  supply  a  fund  of  interesting  historical  mat- 
ter and  information  that  will  grow  in  value  with 
the  years,  and  be  treasured  more  and  more  as  gen- 
eration follows  generation  through  the  years  that 
are  certain  to  follow. 

All  of  these  first  settlers  have  passed  on  before. 
Nearly  all  of  them — as  we  usually  interpret  life — 



are  now  sleeping  beneath  the  sod  which  through 
their  efforts  and  sacrifices  was  tilled  and  prepared. 
Every  cemetery  in  the  county  bears  within  its  bosom 
those  who  fought  the  heroic  fight  of  dominion,  pass- 
ing the  fruits  of  their  anxieties  and  toil  to  those  of 
us  who  follow  them.  Surrounded  and  impressed  by 
these  sacred  memories  this  rehearsal  of  events  cov- 
ering a  generation  should  be  of  great  value,  and  to 
Mr.  Strange,  now  advanced  in  years,  a  product  of 
Eaton  County  and  a  nobleman  by  nature,  who  has 
gladly  given  of  his  time  and  strength  in  the  compil- 
ing of  this  book  should  the  people  feel  profoundly 

To  the  readers  of  this  book  the  suggestion  is 
ventured  that  life  is  one  continuous  whole,  in  reality 
not  broken  by  periods  or  generations,  but  past, 
present  and  future  actually  linked  indissolubly  to- 
gether as  the  moving  picture  may  be  viewed  upon 
the  screen.  Thus  families  of  the  past  and  present 
are  only  seemingly  broken,  and  we  now  in  action,  or 
possibly  on  the  threshold  of  the  future,  are  also 
pioneers  working  out  the  plan  of  a  still  more  glor- 
ious destiny. 

Frank  A.  Ells. 

Charlotte,  Mich.,  August  28, 1923. 


"I  hear  the  tread  of  Pioneers  of  nations  yet  to  be, 

The  first  low  wash  of  waves  where  shall  roll  a  human  sea." 

So  spake  in  wise  prophetic  words  the  poet  of  the  free. 

While  standing  lone  mid  forests  vast  on  Lake  Superior's  shore 

This  music  broke  upon  his  soul  above  the  water's  roar. 

He  listened  then  for  coming  men;  let  us  con  their  mission  o'er. 

The  coming  men  must  clear  the  Vv'oods  and   conquer  foes   and 

fears ; 
Their   wives   must   share   their   toil   and   care   and,   smothering 

many  tears, 
Must  children  rear  mid  want  and  fear,  while  hope  filled  up  the 


A  noble  race  of  stalwart  men!  their  hearts  must  know  no  fear; 
With  courage  strong,  eschewing  wrong,  they  left  all  kindred  dear 
And,  last  words  spoke,  with  hearts  of  oak  they  came  to  conquer 

Savage  was  Nature's  gentlest  mood,  savage  the  beasts,  they  tell; 
Savage  the  blast  of  winter's  gale,  savage  the  trees  that  fell; 
Savage  the  blows  of  these  savage  foes,  savage  the  men  as  well. 

These  were  the  foes  that  hedged  them  round,  these  were  the 
foes  o'ercome; 

But  their  weapons  were  mainly  those  of  peace,  and  they  con- 
quered, one  by  one, 

The  pathless  wood  and  the  fordless  flood  and  here  they  built 
their  home. 

Home,  home,  'twas  a  humble  home,  but  the  love  that  there  was 

Was  the  mother  love  and  the  father  love  and  the  love  of  their 

children  own; 
A  love  that  grew  dear  because  of  the  fear  of  the  dangers  they 

shared  alone. 

Then  neighbors  came  and  strangers  came  and  they  welcomed 
one  and  all; 



And  their  hearts  grew  warm.     No  social   storm  and  seldom  a 

a  petty  brawl 
Was  permitted  to  break  nor  aught  to  take  from  the  love  they 

bore  for  all. 

So  with  sympathy  vast  they  came  at  last  to  claim  as  brethren  all 
The  men  who  land  from  a  foreign  strand  and  settle  within  the 

Of  our  oceans  vast.    So  we  came  at  last  to  form  a  Nation,  small. 

But  soon  to  expand  and  cover  the  land  and  extend  from  sea  to 

From  perpetual  snow  to  the  gulf  below  and  to  islands  in  the  sea. 
Our  soldier  bands  in  foreign  lands  fight  old  world  tyranny. 

But  evils  here  we  now  must  fear  and  fight  with  might  and  main 

All  sinful  lust  and  lust  of  pride  and  lust  of  sordid  gain. 

The  liquor  curse  and  evils  worse  have  bound  us  with  a  chain. 

These  are  the  foes  that  now  disclose  and  all  advance  assail. 
The  pioneers  put  by  all  fears;  to  conquer  ne'er  did  fail. 
Shall  we,  their  sons,  prove  recreant  ones  and  let  our  foes  prevail? 

Let's  emulate  the  pace  they  set  and  every  wrong  assail, 
And  greeting  give  to  all  who  live  wherever  they  may  dwell; 
Our  brethren  all  both  great  and  small  to  own  them  we  do  well. 

In  brotherhood  to  all  mankind  our  love  should  none  forsake. 

Accept  the  task,  if  islands  ask  our  freedom  to  partake; 

Let's  share  this  boon  with  them  right  soon,  their  energies  awake! 

Shout  LIBERTY  to  all  the  world  till  heaven's  vault  is  riven! 
And  as  we  pray  from  day  to  day  let  charity  be  given. 
"Thy   kingdom    come,    Thy   will    be    done,    in    earth    as    'tis   in 

So  shall  our  land  become  more  grand — home  of  the  noble,  free. 
I  hear  the  tread  of  Pioneers'  sons  echoing  from  sea  to  sea. 
And  I  hear  the  shout  their  songs  ring  out,  "LOVE,  TRUTH  and 


Foreword    1 

Charlotte  7 

Bellevue 15 

Eaton   27 

Hamlin 37 

Vermontville 46 

Sunfield    57 

Trying  Trails 62 

Delta 70 

Eaton  Rapids 81 

Eaton  Rapids  City 89 

Chester    93 

Pioneer's  Golden  Wedding 97 

Kalamo    101 

Walton 107 

Olivet   109 

Oneida    116 

Grand  Ledge 123 

Roxand    127 

M.  A.  C.  Semi-Centennial 134 

Benton   138 

Brookfield    149 

Windsor 156 

Carman  Golden  Wedding 164 

Carmel  165 

Address  to  Pioneers 173 

Pioneer  Society  190 



Inteoductoey    Chaptee 

Washington  Irving,  writing  an  humorous  history 
of  New  York,  thought  it  necessary  to  begin  with 
the  creation  of  the  universe.  It  is  not  necessary,  in 
writing  of  the  Pioneers  of  Eaton  County,  to  relate 
the  discovery  of  America  by  Columbus  in  1492,  or 
even  allude  to  its  possible  discovery  by  Lief  Erricson 
some  five  hundred  years  earlier,  but  it  is  proper  to 
note  that  among  the  early  explorers  the  Spaniards 
over-ran  Peru,  Central  America  and  Mexico  in  quest 
of  gold  and  the  region  of  the  lower  Mississippi  in 
search  for  the  fountain  of  eternal  youth. 

The  Dutch  explored  the  Hudson  Eiver  thinking  to 
find  it  a  channel  across  the  continent.  It  is  strange 
that  these  early  navigators  should  have  thought  it 
possible  that  a  rapidly  flowing  current  of  fresh 
water  from  the  hillsides  might  prove  a  channel  level 
with  a  distant  ocean.  The  French,  too,  explored  the 
St.  Lawrence  and  the  Great  Lakes  to  all  their  bound- 
aries thinking  to  find  thence  a  passage  to  the  Indies. 
In  fact  LaSalle  did  find  the  portage  across  to  the 
Illinois  River  down  which  he  floated  to  the  Miss- 



issippi  and  the  Gulf  and  was  surprised  to  find  him- 
self still  on  the  eastern  side  of  the  continent. 

These  were  not  home-seekers.  The  French  inter- 
married with  the  Indians  and  continued  for  many 
years  as  explorers  and  left  a  race  of  half-breeds  be- 
hind them.  They  established  a  mission  at  Sault  Ste. 
Marie  in  1641  and  a  more  permanent  settlement 
there  in  1668.  They  founded  a  mission  at  St.  Ignace 
in  1671  and  a  fort  at  Detroit  in  1701,  but  made  little 
progress  toward  permanent  settlements.  It  re- 
mained to  the  English  to  colonize  America. 

Michigan  was  part  of  the  Northwest  Territory 
until  1800,  when  it  became  part  of  Indiana  Terri- 
tory and  in  January,  1805,  it  was  organized  as  Mich- 
igan Territory.  It  remained  a  desert  wilderness 
until  1823,  when  it  was  given  representative  govern- 
ment. The  southern  portion,  about  fifty  miles  in 
width  including  Eaton  County,  was  surveyed  into 
townships,  each  six  miles  square  and  numbered  from 
the  base  line  and  principal  meridian,  in  1825.  These 
in  turn  were  surveyed  into  sections  one  mile  square 
in  1826  and  1827,  or  about  ten  years  before  settlers 
arrived.  These  government  surveyors  in  1825  met 
many  bewildering  hardships  and  became  disgusted. 
They  reported  that  the  country  was  but  a  series  of 
interminable  swamps  and  sand  barrens  ''with  not 
more  than  one  acre  in  a  hundred,  and  probably  not 
more  than  one  acre  in  a  thousand,  fit  for  cultiva- 
tion. ' ' 

General  Cass,  who  was  Governor  from  1813  to 


1831,  knew  better.  He  had  helped  to  cut  the  army 
path  through  the  wilderness  from  Urbana,  Ohio,  to 
Detroit  in  1812.  He  had  gone  over  the  trail  from 
Detroit  to  Saginaw,  and  he  was  the  first  white  man 
who  ever  rode  over  the  trail  that  led  from  Detroit 
to  Fort  Dearborn,  the  present  site  of  the  city  of 
Chicago.  With  a  view  to  counteracting  the  effect 
of  these  reports,  and  opening  up  the  country,  he 
secured  government  appropriations,  one  for  the 
inauguration  of  a  system  of  roads  connecting  De- 
troit with  various  distant  points.  At  the  terminus 
of  one  of  these  roads  has  since  grown  up  the  city  of 
Port  Huron ;  of  another,  Saginaw^ ;  of  a  third,  Grand 
Eapids,  and  a  fourth  terminal  is  what  is  now  the 
city  of  Toledo.  By  far  the  most  important  road  was 
that  stretching  westward  to  Lake  Michigan  and 
ultimately  to  Fort  Dearborn.  Doubtless  the  settle- 
ment of  Michigan  was  much  delayed  by  the  fact  that 
the  low  lying  lands  about  Detroit,  and  for  thirty 
miles  inland,  were  under  water  much  of  the  year, 
thus  presenting  an  almost  impassable  barrier  to 
pioneer  settlement.  About  1830,  pioneers  began  to 
occupy  the  higher  and  drier  lands  of  Oakland  and 
"Washtenaw  counties.  The  government  roads 
above  named  became  available  for  pioneering  fur- 
ther inland.  No  road  led  direct  to  Eaton  County 
but  many  followed  the  "Grand  River  Road,"  after- 
w^ards  the  ''Plank  Road,"  from  Detroit  through 
where  now  are  Howell  and  North  Lansing  and 
thence  a  trail  toward  Grand  Rapids.    On  this  trail. 


in  Clinton  County,  at  Eagle,  a  professional  land- 
looker  named  Groger  aided  many  in  fording  Grand 
River  and  locating  lands  in  tlie  north  part  of  Eaton 
County  but  very  many  more  took  the  "Territorial 
Road"  toward  Chicago.  They  followed  this  as  far 
as  Jackson  or  even  Battle  Creek  whence  they 
turned  north  and  so  entered  Eaton  County. 

Eaton  County  was  called  into  being  by  act  of  the 
Legislative  Assembly  of  the  Territory  of  Michigan 
on  the  29th  of  October,  1829,  when  there  was  not  a 
white  inhabitant  Avithin  its  bounds.  Andrew  Jack- 
son that  year  became  President  and  the  new  county 
was  named  Eaton  for  his  Secretary  of  War.  On  the 
4th  of  November  of  that  year  the  Council  enacted 
that  the  County  of  Eaton  shall  be  attached  to,  and 
become  part  of  St.  Joseph  County.  On  the  follow- 
ing day  it  was  enacted  that  the  Counties  of  Branch, 
Calhoun  and  Eaton  should  be  set  off  into  a  town- 
ship by  the  name  of  Green.  By  act  of  July  30,  1830, 
Eaton  County  was  attached  to  Kalamazoo  for 
judicial  purposes — and  all  of  this  before  there  was 
an  inhabitant  within  the  bounds  of  the  county. 

On  March  18, 1835,  the  Territorial  Council  enacted 
that  the  County  of  Eaton  shall  be  a  township  by  the 
name  of  Belleville  and  the  first  township  meeting 
shall  be  held  in  such  place  as  the  sheriff  of  Calhoun 
County  shall  appoint  and  said  county  shall  be  at- 
tached to  Calhoun  County  for  judicial  purposes. 

In  1835,  the  Territorial  Council  adopted  a  State 
form  of  government  and  applied  for  admission  to 


the  Union.  In  1836,  this  was  granted  with  the  pro- 
viso that  Michigan  accept  a  southern  boundary  as 
claimed  by  Ohio.  Michigan  accepted  this  and  cast 
her  electoral  vote  in  1836,  w^hich  was  accepted  and 
counted  but  the  ''wireless"  was  slow  in  those  days 
and  it  was  not  until  January,  1837,  that  Congress 
proclaimed  Michigan  a  State.  Hence,  outside  of 
Michigan,  that  is  called  the  date  of  her  admission 
but  inhabitants  of  the  State  claim  an  earlier  date, 
and  prove  it. 

On  December  29,  1837,  the  State  Legislature  en- 
acted that  ''the  County  of  Eaton  be  and  the  same  is 
hereby  organized  and  the  circuit  court  of  the  said 
County  of  Eaton  shall  be  held  at  such  place  as  the 
county  commissioners  shall  provide."  The  com- 
missioners fixed  upon  Bellevue  "until  suitable 
rooms  could  be  erected  at  the  county  seat."  This 
had  been  legally  fixed  upon  the  Charlotte  prairie 
before  there  was  house  or  habitation  there.  G.  W. 
Barns  of  Gull  Prairie  had  purchased  from  the  gov- 
ernment in  1832,  a  part  of  this  prairie.  He  offered 
special  inducements  to  the  Territorial  Commission- 
ers to  locate  the  county  seat  here  and  he  entered  a 
bond  of  $1,000.  The  claim  that  Bellevue  was  once 
the  county  seat  has  shadow  of  truth.  Courts  and 
records  were  held  there  for  a  time. 

The  first  purchases  of  land  in  the  county  were 
mainly  by  speculators  and  not  by  settlers.  The  first 
entry  was  in  1829,  a  part  of  section  30,  in  Vermont- 
ville,  by  T.  Sumner.  The  second  entry  was  in  Oneida 


Townsliip,  section  2,  by  H.  Mason  in  1831.  This 
section  includes  the  north  part  of  the  present  city 
of  Grand  Ledge,  includes  the  islands  and  the  ledges, 
but  it  did  Mason  but  little  good.  It  was  sold  four 
years  later  for  taxes. 

In  1832,  the  Government  Tract  Book  shows  three 
entries  only  in  the  county,  two  by  G.  W.  Barns,  parts 
of  section  18  in  Eaton  Township,  and  of  section  13 
in  Carmel,  both  of  these  now  in  Charlotte. 

The  first  settlement  in  the  county  was  in  Bellevue 
and  will  be  described  at  length  under  that  title,  and 
the  second  was  in  1835  in  Eaton  at  the  edge  of  Char- 
lotte prairie  and  will  be  fully  described  under  Eaton. 

Eight  townships  were  first  settled  in  1836  and 
five  in  1837,  and  last,  but  not  least,  Carmel  in  1838. 
A  chapter  will  be  given  to  each  in  order  of  settle- 
ment as  nearly  as  possible  but  for  the  present  we 
look  to  the  history  of  our  proud  county  seat, 

Its  location  was  upon  a  most  beautiful  flowering 
prairie.  The  legend  that  this  was  first  discovered 
by  a  Mr.  Torrey  in  1833,  is  not  consistent  with  the 
fact  that  the  village  was  platted  upon  the  two  one- 
eighth  sections  (one  upon  each  side  of  the  section 
line),  which  were  bought  from  the  government  in 
1832  by  G.  W.  Barns.  He  secured  the  location  of 
the  county  seat  here  and  later  sold  his  holdings  to 
E.  B.  Bostwick. 

The  following  statement  was  written  and  read 
by  E.  A.  Foote,  Esq.,  in  1877.    It  differs  somewhat 


from  otlier  published  statements  but  lie  was  pains- 
taking and  thorough  and  had  facilities  not  now 
available  and  he  vouched  for  its  accuracy : 

"Jonathan  and  Samuel  Searls  found  their  way 
through  from  Bellevue  in  October,  1835,  They 
worked  five  days  cutting  their  track  and  then  hired 
a  team  to  bring  Mrs.  Searls  and  their  household 
goods  through.  This  track  followed  the  Indian  trail 
from  Bellevue  to  the  Indian  village  in  Walton  and 
then  followed  the  ridge  along  the  south  side  of  Battle 
Creek  until  it  reached  the  township  line  running 
through  Charlotte.  This  was  for  a  long  time  the 
only  passable  route  to  Bellevue. 

' '  Jonathan  and  Samuel  had  no  team  to  work  with 
for  one  year  after  they  came.  By  their  own  unaided 
strength  they  had  to  cut  and  move  to  the  spot  the 
logs  for  Samuel  Searls'  house,  and  then  raise  the 
logs  to  their  place  in  the  building.  There  was  not 
another  house  or  family  within  eight  miles  of  them. 
These  two  men  worked  alone  bare  handed,  laying 
the  foundation  of  a  city,  until  the  first  of  February, 
1837,  when  Japhet  Fisher  joined  them  as  hired  man 
and  went  to  chopping  for  them.  (He  afterwards  be- 
came, by  accident,  the  first  settler  in  Benton  where 
fuller  mention  will  be  given).  Stephen  Kinne  and 
his  wife  and  brother,  Amos,  came  through  on  the 
first  of  January,  1837,  following  the  track  cut  in 
1835,  and  built  their  house  two  miles  south  of  Char- 
lotte. The  nearest  house  then  was  Mr.  Shumway's 
in  Walton,  two  miles  southwest  of  where  Olivet  is 


now  located.  In  1837,  the  Searls  brothers  built  a 
honse  for  Uncle  Jonathan  further  west  on  Searls 
street.  It  was  this  log  house  of  Uncle  Jonathan's 
that  became,  for  a  time,  the  headquarters  for  the 
county.  They  held  caucuses,  conventions  and  county 
canvasses  there.  'They  most  always  stayed  over 
night,'  Aunt  Sally  said.  She  had  them  all  to  wait 
upon.  She  did  the  'county  cooking'  for  years.  'We 
had  a  great  deal  of  men's  company  in  those  days,' 
she  said,  'but  we  seldom  saw  a  woman.' 

"In  1837  or  '38,  a  log  house  was  built  on  the  south 
side  of  Lawrence  Avenue  east  of  the  site  of  the 
Methodist  church,  where  Charles  Piper  once  resided. 
This  was  the  first  building  erected  properly  on  the 
prairie;  the  house  of  Jonathan  Searls  was  in  the 
edge  of  the  timber  at  the  southeast  corner  of  the 

"Allen  Searls,  a  half  brother  of  Jonathan,  Ste- 
phen and  Samuel,  moved  with  his  wife  in  September, 
1838,  coming  with  a  horse  team  via  Jackson  and 
Eaton  Rapids.  A  road  was  cut  out  from  the  Rajoids 
to  a  point  in  Eaton  Township  and  was  passable  for 
teams.  From  Charlotte  a  path  was  cut  out  as  far 
east  as  the  Holcomb  place.  When  Allen  Searls  ar- 
rived he  contracted  with  E.  I.  Lawrence  to  finish  a 
tavern  or  'court  house'  as  it  was  called.  Mr.  Searls 
was  unable  to  finish  the  building  in  time  for  the 
spring  court  in  1839,  and  the  first  court  was  not  held 
here  until  the  following  year. ' ' 

The  above  v/as  written  by  E.  A.  Foote,  Esq.,  and  read  by  him 
at    the   Pioneer   meeting,    1S77. 


Edward  A.  Foote  settled  in  Micliigan  in  1840.  He 
entered  tlie  University  of  Micliigan  in  1840  and  on 
the  15tli  of  August,  1848,  located  in  Eaton  County 
of  which  he  was  elected  clerk  in  1856.  In  January, 
1855,  he  established  the  Eaton  Republican  (after- 
wards the  Charlotte  Republican)  and  became  its 
first  editor.  He  was  prominent  in  organizing  the 
Republican  party  in  the  county  and  in  the  State. 

Harvey  Williams,  who  owned  the  first  frame 
house,  as  successor  to  Simeon  Harding,  established 
the  first  store  in  the  place.  A  block  building,  which 
stood  on  the  lot  between  the  hotel  and  the  Metho- 
dist church,  was  built  by  Mr.  Bostwick  and  occu- 
pied by  a  young  lawyer.  La  Conte. 

Dr.  A.  B.  Sampson  came  to  Charlotte  in  1848,  and 
won  his  place  as  one  of  its  most  enterprising  citi- 
zens. The  "Sampson  Hall"  in  which  the  courts 
were  for  some  time  held,  was  built  by  him  in  1856 
and  '57,  and  was  the  second  or  third  brick  building 
in  the  place. 

Hiram  Shepherd  first  came  to  Michigan  in  1837, 
and  purchased  a  tract  of  land  about  two  miles 
southeast  of  Charlotte,  then  w^ent  east  for  his  fam- 
ily, returning  with  them  in  1840.  "Charlotte  then 
contained  but  two  or  three  buildings  and  neighbors 
were  scarce."  After  moving  two  or  three  times 
he  finally  settled  at  what  became  known  as  ' '  Shep- 
herd's  Corners"  where  his  remaining  years  were 

Alonzo  L.  Baker  settled  in  Eaton  County  in  1842, 


and  in  Charlotte  in  1848,  which  was  his  home  until 
his  death  in  1880. 

Henry  Robinson  settled  in  Vermontville  in  184-1, 
and  removed  to  Charlotte  in  1852. 

Hannibal  G.  Rice  was  a  well  known  character  and 
amassed  considerable  wealth. 

Ellzey  Hayden  settled  in  Charlotte  in  1844,  and 
engaged  in  business  with  his  brother  John.  He 
was  a  prominent  citizen  and  held  county  office  for 
many  years. 

James  Johnson  settled  here  in  1851,  F.  H.  Kil- 
bourn  in  '57  and  T.  D.  Green  in  '46. 

Rev.  Luman  Foote,  father  of  E.  A.  Foote,  was  an 
Episcopal  clergyman  and  graduate  of  the  University 
of  Vermont ;  he  practiced  law  in  the  supreme  court 
of  Vermont  in  1822,  founded  and  edited  the  Burling- 
ton Free  Press  from  which  he  retired  in  1833.  He 
preached  in  Kalamazoo  from  1840,  and  came  to 
Charlotte  in  1846. 

D.  F.  Webber  came  to  Charlotte  in  1857,  and  the 
following  winter  taught  the  village  school,  then 
took  a  census  of  the  village  and  found  less  than  seven 
hundred  inhabitants.  He  taught  in  a  brick  build- 
ing on  West  Lovett  street.  The  building  afterwards 
became  a  wagon  shop. 

Mr.  Johnston  established  the  Eaton  Bugle  in 
March,  1845.  The  first  number  had  advertisements 
of  S.  E.  Millett  &  Co.,  ''All  kinds  of  goods  (for 
ready  pay  only) ;  also,  wanted  100,000  bushels  of 
ashes    delivered    at    our    ashery   in    exchange    for 


goods."  Joseph  Hall,  M.  D.  and  M.  S.  Wilkinson, 
attorneys,  had  cards  in  this  issue.  J.  &  E.  Hayden 
advertised  tin,  etc.,  for  sale,  ''Terms — ready  pay. 
All  kinds  of  produce  taken  in  exchange."  The 
editor  was  evidently  an  humorist.  From  his  long 
editorial  I  clip  but  a  fragment:  "Where  is  the  heart 
that  hath  ever  imagined  the  inward  pang  that  a  half 
cracked  swain  endures  when  gazing  where  two  of 
these  flowers — the  most  lovely  that  ever  grew — 
bringing  their  lips  together  with  a  sound  not  unlike 
that  which  a  cider  barrel  makes  when  the  bung 
flies  out."  The  sixth  issue  of  the  Bugle  announced, 
"Since  our  last  paper  there  have  thirteen  settlers 
arrived  in  our  prairie  city.  We  are  happy  to  an- 
nounce the  prospects  of  our  city  were  never  better." 

E.  B.  Bostwick  of  New  York  City  had  purchased 
of  Geo.  W.  Barns  the  entire  tract  upon  which  the 
early  village  was  located.  H.  I.  Lawrence  of  Char- 
lotte was  his  agent.  Bostwick  wrote  Lawrence  from 
New  York,  December  29,  1838,  a  letter  from  which  I 
extract  the  following :  "  I  am  much  pleased  with  your 
purchase  of  the  balance  of  the  Eaton  County-seat 
property  and  I  will  soon  write  you  a  long  letter  sub- 
mitting a  plan  for  the  to^\Ti.  You  speak  of  calling 
the  place  after  me  but  I  have  just  become  a  married 
man  and  I  would  prefer  calling  it  Charlotte  after 
my  wife." 

A  petition  from  the  citizens  was  handed  to  the 
board  of  supervisors  at  their  session  in  1863,  and 
the  order  was  issued  on  the  twelfth  of  that  month 


incorporating  tlie  village  of  Charlotte.  The  first 
election  was  held  on  the  first  of  March,  1864,  when 
the  following  officers  were  chosen:  President,  A.  D. 
Shaw;  Trustees,  W.  L.  Granger,  Joseph  Mnsgrave, 
Calvin  Clark,  Sylvester  Collins,  S.  P.  Webber,  and 
T.  L.  Curtiss;  Marshal,  Henry  Baughman;  Treas- 
urer, E.  T.  Church;  Clerk,  E.  A.  Foote;  Assessor, 
S.  P.  Jones. 

By  act  of  Michigan  Legislature,  March  29,  1871, 
the  City  of  Charlotte  was  incorporated,  but  this  is 
more  recent  than  the  pioneer  period. 

The  first  postmaster  here  was  Jonathan  Searls, 
appointed  in  1838,  and  a  mail  bag,  sometimes  empty, 
came  once  a  week  from  Marshall. 

Musgrave  &  Haslett  became  dry  goods  mer- 
chants here  in  1854.  F.  W.  &  P.  M.  Higby  entered 
the  same  business  in  1858. 

Elisha  Shepherd,  in  company  with  his  father-in- 
law,  L.  H,  Ion,  began  business  here  in  1852.  They 
were  proprietors  of  the  old  Eagle  Hotel  and  oper- 
ated a  line  of  stages  to  neighboring  towns.  About 
1856,  the  firm  of  E.  &  J.  Shepherd  was  established. 
Elisha  Shepherd  became  very  prominent  and  for 
many  years  was  the  president  of  the  Eaton  County 
Pioneer  Society. 

E.  T.  Church  established  a  grocery  here  in  1856, 
and  continued  it  until  he  was  the  oldest  established 
merchant  in  the  city. 

Dr.  Henry  M.  Munson  came  to  Charlotte  from 
New  York  in  the  fall  of  1847,  his  family  joining  him 
in  the  following  spring.     The   old  Munson  home. 


near  tlie  Federal  building,  is  still  in  possession  of 
the  family,  tlie  owner  being  a  grandson,  Carl  Mun- 
son  Green,  the  well  known  Chicago-Detroit  adver- 
tising man.  Dr.  Munson  was  the  county's  first 
Probate  Judge  which  office  gave  him  the  unique 
distinction  of  serving  the  people  of  the  community 
at  both  ends  of  their  earthly  career — in  the  begin- 
ning as  the  family  doctor,  making  his  calls  on  horse- 
back and  carrying  his  medicine  in  saddle  bags,  and 
at  the  close  of  the  pilgrimage,  as  the  county  judge, 
disbursing  their  earthly  possessions  according  to  the 
meager  laws  of  the  time. 

A.  H.  Munson  and  Theodore  J.  Thomas  estab- 
lished a  hardware  store  here  in  1861. 

Musgrave  &  Lacey  established  a  banking  busi- 
ness here  in  January,  1862.  (These  dates  are  copied 
as  I  find  them  in  print.  My  personal  recollection 
would  question  some  of  them.) 

Hon.  D.  Darwin  Hughes  taught  the  school  here  in 

N.  A.  Johnson,  a  manufacturer,  came  here  in  1842, 
when  there  were  but  five  completed  houses  in  the 

Charlotte  may  well  be  proud  of  her  beautiful 
prairie  but,  financially  considered,  it  is  but  a  poor 
offset  for  the  stream,  water-power  and  sawmill 
possessed  by  other  infant  villages  of  the  period. 
The  Searls  brothers  were  experts  with  the  broadaxe 
and  hewed  boards  (leaving  no  score  marks)  for 
many  houses.  The  first  load  of  lumber  in  Charlotte 
was  drawn  from  Spicerville  in  1838.    It  was  used  in 


flooring  the  hotel  in  1840,  and  in  May,  1840,  the 
first  term  of  court  was  held  in  its  upper  room.  The 
^first  permanent  settlement  in  the  county  was  in  July, 
1833.  Allowing  a  full  generation  for  pioneering  the 
county,  the  county  was  well  opened  up  in  1866. 
There  were  as  many  miles  of  road  opened  up  in  the 
county  then  as  today  (not  so  good,  however).  As 
many  bridges,  as  many  schools,  churches,  (not 
edifices),  mills,  etc.  Pioneers  no  longer  cut  roads 
to  their  homes  through  trackless  forests  nor 
pounded  corn  upon  stumps  for  their  meal.  The 
open  fireplace  had  given  place  to  the  stove  for  cook- 
ing and  carpets  appeared  upon  their  floors.  About 
this  time  home-spun  suits  for  grown  daughters 
gave  place  to  calico  and  young  men  began  to  buy 
some  of  their  clothes  "ready  made." 

The  soldiers  returned  from  the  Civil  War  with 
some  money  and  much  enterprise  in  1865.  An  era  of 
rapid  development  then  set  in  and  the  county  has 
since  multiplied  its  wealth  many  fold  but  not  by 
pioneering  methods.  Perhaps  as  many  acres  have 
been  cleared  since  that  date  as  before  but  by  quite 
different  process.  The  grub  hoe  has  given  place  to 
dynamite,  the  scythe  to  the  mower,  the  sickle  to 
the  reaper,  the  ox  to  the  horse  and  he  to  the  motor. 
We  talk  with  friends  a  thousand  miles  away  and 
transport  ourselves  through  the  air  and  our 
thoughts  by  wireless  to  the  ends  of  the  earth. 

The  pioneers'  proper  work  ended  in  1866,  and  we 
may  well  end  our  history  there  and  now  bid  a  grate- 
ful farewell  to  the  pioneers  for  a  season. 


The  early  prospectors  and  pioneers  of  Eaton 
County  exhibited  much  esthetic  taste.  As  we  have 
seen  the  site  of  Charlotte  was  selected  because  of 
its  beautiful  flowering  prairie;  so  too  at  Bellevue, 
the  site  merited  its  name  when  but  an  Indian  vil- 
lage and  long  before  white  men  beheld  it.  J.  T. 
Hayt,  the  first  postmaster  there,  thus  described  it : 
"The  burr-oak  plain  where  the  village  of  Bellevue 
is  now  situated,  contained  about  a  half  section  of 
land  and,  in  its  original  state,  it  was  to  me  the  most 
beautiful  spot  I  had  ever  seen.  I  visited  it  in  June, 
1834,  before  the  white  man  had  marred  its  beauty. 
The  wild  grass  was  then  about  a  foot  high  and  in- 
terspersed with  it  were  the  most  beautiful  flowers 
that  I  had  ever  beheld.  *  *  *  *  While  gazing  upon 
its  beauty  and  inhaling  its  delicious  fragrance,  I 
formed  a  resolution  that,  Providence  permitting,  I 
would  erect  upon  it  a  dwelling. ' ' 

A  squatter  whose  name  and  fame  are  alike  well 
nigh  forgotten,  Blashford  or  Blashfield,  had  erected 
here  some  kind  of  habitation  as  early  as  1829  or  '30. 
He  owned  no  land  and  remained  but  a  short  time. 
Perhaps  he  should  no  more  be  counted  than  the  sur- 
veyors who  preceded  him. 

The  first  actual  and  permanent  settler  here,  or  in 
Eaton  County,  was  Capt.  Reuben  Fitzgerald,  in 
July,  1833.     His  habitation  was  so  unlike  that  of 



other  pioneers  that  it  is  jDerhaps  well  to  pause  to 
describe  the  early  homes  of  pioneers  here  and,  brief- 
ly, elsewhere.  The  item  will  interest  the  children 
of  this  and  all  succeeding  generations.  Pioneers 
everywhere  readily  adapt  themselves  and  their 
houses  to  the  available  material.  Near  the  rocky 
beds  of  western  streams  shelters  were  built  from  the 
easily  quarried  flagstones  and  covered  by  buffalo 
hides  or  other  available  material.  In  the  distant 
southwest,  an  almost  rainless  region,  walls  were 
built  of  adobe  or  dried  mud.  The  enclosed  space 
covered  with  poles  over  which  was  thro^vn  a  few 
inches  of  earth.  This  made  an  admirable  shelter 
from  blistering  sun  and  biting  winds  but  would 
have  been  quite  inadequate  if  rains  were  copious, 
but  thousands  of  ''greasers"  are  dwelling  in  these 
today.  On  the  great  western  prairies  temporary 
homes  were  the  well  known  sod-houses. 

The  most  of  Eaton  County  had  abundant  crude 
building  material  in  the  densely  crowded  forests 
where  the  straight  trunks  of  trees  were  often  sixty 
feet  in  height  before  a  limb  was  found.  From  these 
trees  straight  logs,  about  a  foot  in  diameter  and 
from  sixteen  to  forty  feet  in  length,  were  cut  and 
from  these  their  houses  and  barns  were  built.  The 
first  shelter  for  the  lone  pioneer  was  usually  a  shanty 
of  such  poles  as  he  alone  could  handle  and  covered 
with  brush  or  bark  and  served  for  the  few  months 
until  the  better  house  could  be  built.  Sometimes  the 
shanty  was  of  heavier  and  more  permanent  char- 


acter.  A  log  pen  sixteen  feet  square  with  wall  higher 
upon  one  side  than  the  other  and  covered  with  split 
half  logs  from  hollow  trees.  These  were  laid  side 
by  side  trough  up  to  convey  the  water  to  the  lower 
side.  Crevices  between  were  then  covered  by  other 
half  logs  reverse  side  up  thus  forming  a  roof  imper- 
vious to  rain.  The  late  Senator  G.  N.  Potter  and  his 
numerous  brothers  and  sisters  were  reared  to  their 
teens  in  a  shanty  of  this  kind  where  the  village  of 
Potterville  now  stands.  The  ruder  form  of  log 
house  was  of  rough  logs  encased  in  their  bark, 
notched  together  at  the  corners  so  as  to  lie  close, 
then  the  crevices  chinked  and  plastered  with  mud. 
This  was  roofed  with  shakes  or  long  shingles  riven 
by  hand.  Holes  were  cut  for  door  and  window  and 
a  hole  perhaps  six  feet  square  at  center  of  one  end. 
In  this  was  built  the  open  fireplace,  enclosed  with 
stones  laid  in  mud  upon  the  outside,  but  the  inside 
opened  into  the  house.  A  chimney  was  built  of 
sticks  encased  in  mud  and  carried  higher  than  the 
peak  of  the  rude  habitation. 

In  the  best  kind  of  log  house  the  logs  were  hewn 
to  square  sticks  of  timber.  These  were  dovetailed 
at  the  corners  thus  forming  solid  walls.  This  was 
called  a  "block-house"  and  was  comparatively  rare. 
The  Eagle  Hotel  at  Charlotte  was  of  this  character, 
hewn  and  finished  by  the  Searls  brothers  and  nearly 
as  smooth  and  perfect  as  a  modern  stuccoed  house. 

The  most  common  character  of  log  house  here  was 
of  quality  between  these  two.    Elm  logs  were  com- 


monly  chosen  and  tlie  bark  removed.  These  were 
then  hewn  upon  one,  the  inner,  side.  When  these 
were  finished  and  papered  one  would  scarcely  see, 
when  inside,  that  he  was  not  in  a  ceiled  and  plastered 

When  logs  w^ere  rolled  up  to  a  height  of  about 
eight  feet  a  longer  log  was  placed  at  each  end  pro- 
jecting perhaps  ten  feet  rearward.  Long  rafters  ex- 
tended to  the  ends  of  these  logs.  The  roof  then 
covered  a  veranda  or  porch  but  by  them  always 
called  a  "stoop."  This  formed  a  convenient  shelter 
for  tools,  work  shop  or  fuel.  A  fireplace  was  built 
of  bricks  with  brick  chimney.  The  house  was  one 
and  a  half  stories  in  height  with  floors,  sometimes  of 
sawed  lumber  but  more  frequently  of  ''puncheon" 
or  boards  riven  by  hand  from  straight  splitting 
trees.  All  cooking  was  by  the  open  fireplace  which 
was  provided  with  an  iron  crane  from  which  de- 
pended iron  hooks  of  various  lengths  to  support 
the  kettles  over  the  flames  or  coal.  Baking  was  in  a 
tin  baker  placed  before  the  fire.  The  frame  suj)- 
ported  bread  tins  in  which  were  placed  the  loaves. 
A  polished  tin  beneath  sloping  toward  the  fire  re- 
flected the  heat  against  the  under  side  of  loaves 
and  a  cover  above  sloping  from  the  fire  reflected 
heat  downward.  I  well  remember  when  my  sister 
and  I  were  stationed  one  at  each  side  the  fireplace 
to  watch  the  loaves  and  to  call  mother  when  the 
ends  began  to  brown  that  she  might  lift  the  cover 
and  turn  the  loaves  around  to  brown  the  other  end. 


After  1850,  cook-stoves  came  into  general  use  in 
the  county.  Studding  and  siding  could  then  be  ob- 
tained at  saw  mills  and  with  these  the  "stoop"  was 
enclosed  to  form  pantry  and  kitchen  where  the  stove 
was  installed.  In  such  a  home  the  writer  was 
reared  until  twelve  years  old. 

When  Capt.  Fitzgerald  arrived  at  Bellevue  with 
his  wife  and  three  children,  with  two  yoke  of  oxen 
drawing  his  one  wagon  with  his  earthly  possessions, 
he  upturned  the  wagon  box  for  a  shelter  which  with 
some  additions  of  bark  formed  his  first  temporary 
home.  He  found  here  what  he  thought  was  a  deserted 
Indian  village  with  wigwams  of  poles  and  bark.  He 
took  these  flakes  of  bark,  some  four  feet  square,  to 
roof  a  better  shanty.  When  the  Indians  returned 
they  were  very  indignant.  It  became  necessary  to 
send  to  Marshall  for  an  interpreter.  His  explana- 
tion with  sundry  gifts  quieted  the  Indians  and  all 
was  well.  The  scattered  burr-oaks  had  much  the 
form  of  modern  apple  trees  and  were  ill  adapted  for 
building  purposes.  The  Captain  had  but  little 
money  to  buy  material  but  his  friend  Hunsiker,  back 
east  and  planning  to  come  soon,  advanced  the  money 
and  bought  lumber  in  Marshall  and  Capt.  Fitzgerald 
built  the  first  two  houses  and,  very  exceptional  in 
the  history  of  pioneering  in  Michigan,  they  were 
framed  houses  instead  of  log.  They  moved  into  the 
new  house  before  it  was  completed  and  before  it  was 
roofed.  During  a  severe  storm  the  Captain  and 
another  man  held  a  buffalo  robe  over  the  sick  bed 


of  Mrs.  Fitzgerald.  On  November  12, 1834,  she  gave 
birtli  to  a  daughter,  Sarah  A.,  the  first  white  child 
born  in  Eaton  County,  and  on  February  13, 1837,  she 
gave  birth  to  a  son,  Edwin.  She  succumbed,  as  did 
many  another,  to  the  hardships  of  pioneer  life  and 
died  sixteen  days  after  this  birth.  The  Captain 
remained  a  widower  nearly  five  years.  He  always 
regretted  his  lack  of  early  education  but  now  made 
up  for  it,  in  part,  by  marrying  a  very  intelligent 
lady,  Florinda,  daughter  of  Judge  Eldred  of  Climax. 
The  Judge  was  a  man  of  some  eminence,  twice  in 
Michigan  legislature  and  for  many  years  president 
of  Kalamazoo  Baptist  College.  This  second  wife 
bore  the  Captain  seven  children,  some  of  them  living- 
more  than  a  score  of  years  into  the  twentieth  cen- 

I  have  already  mentioned  the  earliest  entries  of 
land  in  Eaton  County ;  one  in  Vermontville  in  1829, 
one  in  Oneida  in  1831,  two  entries  in  what  is  now  the 
heart  of  Charlotte  in  1832.  All  of  these  were  by 
speculators  who  probably  never  saw  their  purchases. 
Another  entry  was  made  in  Bellevue  in  1832  by 
Isaac  E.  Crary.  At  that  time  he  was  a  resident  of 
Marshall  but  his  interests  in  Eaton  County  in  a  man- 
ner antedates  them  all.  He  was  twice  our  member 
of  the  legislature  and,  while  his  friend  and  neighbor, 
Rev.  John  D.  Pierce  is  counted  the  father  of  the 
Michigan  school  system,  Mr.  Crary  was  its  legisla- 
tive father,  carrying  into  successful  enactment  into 
law  the  plans  of  Father  Pierce.    Mr.  Crary  became 


our  representative  in  Congress  and  was  so  popular 
with  his  neighbors  that  the  first  male  child  born  in 
the  county  was  given  his  full  name,  Isaac  E.  Crary 

Mr.  Crary  was  a  partner  in  erecting  the  first 
flouring  mill  in  the  county.  The  inexhaustible  beds 
of  superior  lime  stone  found  at  Bellevue  proved  a 
most  valuable  acquisition  for  Eaton  and  adjoining 
counties.  The  ashery  here  and  the  purchase  of 
''black  salts,"  for  which  they  paid  cash  and  which 
they  made  into  saleratus,  furnished  almost  the  only 
cash  known  to  the  pioneers  for  many  years.  Trade 
was  by  barter  and  taxes  were  paid  by  ''road  war- 
rants." Pioneers  took  jobs  at  cutting  out  State 
roads  and  took  in  pay  "w^arrants"  which  were  good 
for  taxes  if  naught  else.  The  Territorial  Legisla- 
ture enacted  in  March,  1835,  that  "the  County  of 
Eaton  shall  be  organized  into  a  township  by  the 
name  of  Belleville,  and  the  first  township  meeting 
shall  be  held  at  such  place  as  the  sheriff  of  Calhoun 
County  shall  appoint  within  said  County  of  Eaton." 
The  petitioners  were  poor  penmen  and  the  name 
misconstrued.  That  enactment  has  never  been  re- 
pealed but  the  name  was  never  used  in  that  form 
and  Bellevue  is  doubtless  now  correct  by  "adverse 
possession"  so  to  speak. 

The  election  was  held  as  ordered  in  the  log  meet- 
ing house.  At  that  time  the  township  of  five  hun- 
dred seventy-six  square  miles  contained  but  four 
inhabitants  who  had  been  here  long  enough  to  en- 


title  tliem  to  vote:  Reuben  Fitzgerald,  Sylvanus 
Hunsiker,  Calvin  Plielps  and  James  Kimberly. 
They  made  Jolm  T.  Hayt  clerk  of  the  meeting  and 
ordered  Calvin  Phelps  to  proclaim  the  polls  open. 
This  he  did,  stepping  to  the  front,  with  his  hat  off, 
in  a  loud  voice  he  proclaimed,  ''The  poll  of  this 
election  is  now  open.  I  warn  all  men,  under  penalty 
of  the  law,  to  keep  the  peace."  The  four  electors 
proceeded  to  elect  each  other  to  all  the  best  offices 
and  gave  leaner  ones  to  the  later  comers.  All  votes 
were  cast  within  half  an  hour  but,  in  accordance 
with  the  law,  they  sat  the  whole  day  through.  There 
could  be  no  question  but  it  was  a  legal  election.  The 
law  could  now  be  enforced. 

At  a  meeting  of  the  board  May  8,  1841,  it  was  first 
''resolved,  that  in  the  opinion  of  the  board,  the  pub- 
lic good  does  not  require  the  licensing  of  three  places 
for  the  sale  of  spirituous  liquors  in  this  town;  car- 
ried. Second,  resolved  that  A.  Grant  have  license 
for  selling  spirituous  liquors.  It  was  lost.  Third, 
resolved,  that  license  be  granted  to  the  stores  in  this 
village,  with  the  exception  of  selling  spirituous 
liquors.  Carried.  Fourth,  resolved,  that  A.  Grant 
have  license,  if  he  calls  for  it,  with  the  exception  of 
selling  spirituous  liquors  and  wines.    Carried." 

The  first  sermon  in  Eaton  County  was  delivered 
in  1833,  at  the  house  of  Reuben  Fitzgerald,  by  Rev. 
John  D.  Pierce  of  Marshall,  a  Presbyterian  minister. 
In  the  spring  of  1834,  three  Methodist  families  set- 
tled in  the  place  and  Rev.  Mr.  Hobart  preached  the 


first  Methodist  sermon.  In  the  fall  of  1834,  Rev. 
Davison  organized  the  first  Methodist  class,  consist- 
ing of  five  members,  J.  Kimberly,  leader. 

In  1835,  there  were  in  Bellevue  the  following:  R. 
Fitzgerald,  S.  Hunsiker,  D.  Mason,  Calvin  Phelps, 
Asa  Phelps,  L.  Campbell,  John  Hayt,  J.  Kimberly 
and  J.  Hutchinson,  with  their  wives ;  B.  Bader,  J.  B. 
Crary,  W.  Streeter,  N.  F.  Blossom,  R.  Slatel  and 
J.  Tripp,  all  single  men.  There  was  a  saw  mill  and 
at  this  time  a  plat  was  made  for  a  village  and  the 
sale  of  lots  began  at  from  $5  to  $20  each.  A  log 
cabin  was  erected  for  school  and  meeting-house.  On 
the  4th  of  August,  John  T.  Hayt  received  his  com- 
mission as  postmaster.  The  office  was  established 
with  the  understanding  that  the  mail  was  to  be  car- 
ried to  Marshall  once  a  week  without  cost  to  the 
government.  Capt.  Fitzgerald  volunteered  to  carry 
the  mail  for  four  years  for  $15  a  quarter  or  for  what 
the  office  collected  until  that  sum  w^as  reached.  Re- 
ceipts for  the  first  quarter  were  $2.25,  postage  being 
twenty-five  cents  for  a  letter.  It  was  more  than  a 
year  before  the  Captain  received  his  full  payment  of 
$15,  but  by  March,  1838,  receipts  were  over  $82  per 

The  spring  of  1835  arrived  with  no  bridge  across 
Battle  Creek  and  no  road  leading  northward.  By 
subscriptions  in  Marshall  and  Bellevue  $155  was 
raised  for  this  purpose  and  the  road  opened  to  the 
Thornapple.     There  it  stopped  until  Vermont  Col- 


ony  was  settled  when  the  road  was  continued  to 

Inhabitants  in  Bellevue  were  very  few  but  very 
patriotic  in  1835.  They  resolved  that  July  4th  should 
be  celebrated  according  to  program  provided  by 
committee.  This  was  done  and  the  Declaration  of 
Independence  was  read  by  Rev.  Asa  Phelps  and  a 
dinner  provided  by  the  citizens.  All  this  before 
there  was  any  settler  elsewhere  within  the  county. 

In  1836,  Lawrence  Campbell  built  the  first  hotel. 
The  years  '36  and  '37  brought  new  inhabitants, 
some  of  the  names  well  known  throughout  the  county 
in  later  years:  the  Woodbury  brothers.  Dr.  Clark, 
E.  Jarvis,  S.  Higgins,  E.  FoUett,  E.  Bond,  two 
Averys,  H.  Jervis,  Capt.  Hickok,  W.  R.  Carpenter, 
Willard  Davis,  G.  S.  Browning,  J.  T.  Ellis,  S.  An- 
drews and  others.  Several  of  these  soon  after  re- 
moved to  Vermontville. 

In  1836,  the  first  district  school  in  the  county  was 
taught  by  Hepsebeth  Hutchinson.  The  next  year 
the  school  was  taught  by  Willard  Davis,  Esq.,  who 
also  did  lay  preaching  on  Sunday  in  the  same  log 
school  house. 

Capt.  J.  W.  Hickok  attempted  to  reach  his  land 
four  miles  east  with  his  worldly  goods,  as  usual, 
drawn  by  an  ox  team.  His  wife 's  foot  came  in  con- 
tact with  a  small  tree  and  her  limb  was  broken.  The 
Captain  returned  to  Bellevue  for  help.  Men  made  a 
rude  litter  and  carried  her  back  to  the  village  where 
Dr.  Carpenter  set  her  limb.     She  remained  in  bed 


nine  weeks  and  in  tlie  meantime,  on  September  7, 
1836,  gave  birth  to  the  first  male  child  born  in  the 
county,  Isaac  E.  C.  Hickok,  afterward  well  known 
throughout  the  county;  a  student  at  Olivet  College 
the  first  day  its  doors  were  opened  as  a  college  and 
later  principal  of  schools  in  Charlotte,  and  later 
still  a  lawyer  there.  He  was  honored  with  county 
offices  which  in  turn  he  honored. 

About  this  time  a  large  boat  was  built  with  the 
purpose  of  boating  lime  down  the  Creek  and  into 
the  Kalamazoo  River.  The  boat  was  capsized  on 
its  first  attempt  and  the  enterprise  ended  in  dis- 
aster as  did  the  building  of  the  first  lime  kiln,  but 
the  lime  industry  survived  and  is  still  an  important 

An  early  historian  relates  that  the  pioneers  of 
Bellevue  were  exceptionally  fond  of  fun.  I  can  here 
relate  but  one  incident.  Huckleberries  were  found 
in  vast  quantities  in  a  swamp  near  Mr.  Ackley's  but 
only  a  preacher  named  Reynolds  and  one  other  man 
knew  the  exact  location  and  this  they  refused  to 
disclose.  Hinman  and  Bracket  determined  to  locate 
the  pickers  and  went  round  the  swamp  in  opposite 
directions,  hallooing  often  but  getting  no  response. 
Finally  Hinman  found  a  loaded  bush  and  placing  a 
handful  in  his  mouth  was  compelled  to  cough.  The 
coughing  frightened  the  preacher  who  now  pounded 
a  tree  and  shouted  *'steboy"  and  then  ran  out  of 
the  swamp  and,  without  stopping,  to  Mr.  Ackley's 
house  where  he  reported  that  ''a  very  large  bear 


had  chased  him  out  of  the  swamp ! ' '  The  reverend 
preacher  was  soon  afterward  called  elsewhere. 

Among  others  w^ho  came  to  Bellevue  in  1836  was 
Sylvester  Day.  I  relate  his  experience  not  because 
it  was  exceptional  but  because  it  was  typical.  Com- 
ing all  the  way  from  Orleans  County  in  New  York 
with  an  ox  team  he  reached  Bellevue  in  October 
with  his  family,  daughter  and  two  sons.  They  built 
their  shanty  and  slept  in  it  the  second  night  after 
arrival  although  it  had  no  roof  and  their  bed  was 
planks  split  from  a  log.  The  roof  was  soon  made  of 
troughs  dug  from  basswood  logs  and  the  floor  split 
from  the  same.  In  this  shanty  they  lived  eighteen 
months.  The  following  spring  w^as  so  wet  it  was 
impossible  to  burn,  and  corn  was  planted  among  the 
logs.  This  crop  was  killed  by  early  frost  while  it 
was  yet  green.  That  fall  they  sowed  seven  acres  of 
wheat  and  from  it  secured  a  good  crop  and  their 
prospects  brightened.  Before  this  harvest  times 
were  hard.  Their  means  were  exhausted.  Flour 
was  $25  a  barrel  and  they  were  faced  by  hunger, 
but  after  that  time  they  never  knew  want. 

Bellevue  township  comprised  the  entire  county 
until  March  11,  1837,  when  Vermontville  was  set 
off  to  comprise  the  northwest  quarter  of  the  county 
and  Eaton  the  southeast  quarter.  The  following 
year  Oneida  was  organized  to  include  the  northeast 
quarter.  Each  of  these  was  afterward  divided  into 
four  of  our  present  townships. 


As  we  have  seen  the  township  of  Bellevue  com- 
prised the  whole  of  Eaton  County  until,  by  act  of 
legislature  approved  March  11,  1837,  it  was  subdi- 
vided and  the  Township  of  Eaton  was  created  com- 
prising the  whole  of  the  southeast  quarter  of  the 
county.  Who  was  the  first  settler  of  this  vast  area? 
To  be  the  first  in  any  laudable  enterprise  is  always 
a  coveted  honor,  and  the  title  ofttimes  in  dispute. 
''First  in  war,  first  in  peace  and  first  in  the  hearts 
of  his  countrymen,"  was  written  of  George  Wash- 
ington but  if  you  ask  a  republican,  today,  to  whom 
the  description  applies,  he  will  at  once  think  of  his 
well  beloved  McKinley.  He  was  first  in  one  war 
and  first  in  the  hearts  of  some  of  his  countrymen. 
If  you  ask  a  democrat  he  will  perhaps  choose  to 
divide  the  honor  between  Woodrow  Wilson  who  was 
first  in  one  war  and  Wm.  J.  Bryan  who  is  sometimes 
in  peace.  So,  too,  the  honor  of  this  first  settlement 
is  contested.  I  have  a  letter  by  John  Montgomery 
saying,  "I  came  to  Eaton  County  the  1st  of  January, 
1836.  I  was  the  first  settler  in  the  east  half  of  the 
county."  This  would  doubtless  be  true  if  he  had 
added,  "with  the  exception  of  one  residence  in  the 
extreme  west,  near  the  present  site  of  Charlotte." 
I  have  also  a  history  written,  printed  and  sold  forty 
years  ago  in  which  I  read,  ''The  first  settler  near  the 



beautiful  prairie  where  now  stands  the  city  of  Char- 
lotte, was  Jonathan  Searls,  a  veteran  of  the  war  of 
1812.  He  settled  with  his  family,  on  the  southeast 
corner  of  the  prairie  in  November,  1836." 

E.  A.  Foote,  Esq.,  gave  very  much  study  to  this 
early  history.  He  was  painstaking  and  thorough. 
He  had  facilities  for  deciding  disputed  points  as  no 
one  can  have  at  this  time.  He  wrote  with  detail 
of  circumstance  and  vouched  for  the  accuracy  and 
truth  of  his  statements.  Mr.  Foote  read  a  paper 
before  the  Eaton  County  Pioneer  Society  in  1877,  in 
which  he  said,  "Jonathan  and  Samuel  Searls  found 
their  way  through  from  Bellevue  in  October,  1835. 
They  left  Mrs.  Searls  at  Bellevue  until  they  could 
cut  a  track  through  for  a  team.  They  worked  five 
days  cutting  this  track,  and  then  hired  a  team  to 
bring  Mrs.  Searls  and  the  household  goods  through. 
Jonathan  and  Samuel  had  no  team  to  work  with  for 
one  year  after  they  came.  By  their  o^\ti  unaided 
strength  they  had  to  cut  and  move  to  the  spot  the 
logs  for  Samuel  Searls'  house,  and  then  raise  the 
logs  to  their  places  on  the  building.  When  these  two 
men  rolled  up  these  logs  there  was  not  another  house 
or  family  within  eight  miles." 

The  first  land  purchased  of  the  government  with- 
in the  limits  of  the  present  Township  of  Eaton  was, 
as  already  related,  by  G.  W.  Barns  in  1832,  in  the 
heart  of  the  present  city  of  Charlotte.  He  lived  at 
Gull  Prairie  and  never  settled  here.  In  1833,  land 
was  bought  here  by  J.  Torrey  and  by  H.  G.  Rice,  but 


I  find  no  notice  of  land  purchased  in  1834.  In  1835, 
land  was  purchased  by  S.  Hamlin,  T.  R.  Smith,  S. 
Aulls,  S.  Searls,  J.  Searls,  T.  Lawrence,  R.  J.  Wells, 
C  E.  Stewart,  and  L.  H.  Sanf  ord.  In  1836,  purchas- 
ers were  numerous,  including  A,  Spicer,  H.  Janes, 
W.  Wall,  H.  and  E.  Moe,  D.  Bryant,  0.  D.  Butler, 
0.  J.  Holcomb,  J.  F.  Pixley,  W.  D.  Thompson,  W. 
and  J.  and  G.  Southworth,  A.  Smoke,  P.  W^hitcomb, 
A.  L.  Baker,  and  Amos  Kinne. 

To  Mr.  Foote  I  am  again  indebted  for  the  follow- 

''Wm.  Wall  and  J.  F.  Pixley  came  from  Niagara 
County,  New  York,  in  June,  1836.  Leaving  their 
families  for  a  time  at  Sandstone,  in  Jackson  County, 
the  two  men  came  into  Eaton  upon  section  25.  About 
the  first  of  July,  1837,  they  moved  their  families  in 
and  it  was  ten  weeks  before  their  wives  saw  any 
person  save  their  families  and  numerous  Indians." 

In  October,  1836,  four  months  after  locating  six 
miles  east  of  Charlotte,  Mr.  Wall  first  became  aware 
of  the  existence  of  the  prairie  where  now  stands 
Charlotte.  He  then  learned  that  the  Searls  broth- 
ers and  Stephen  and  Amos  Kinne  were  ahead  of 
him  in  settling  here.  These  with  Mr.  Wall  and  Mr. 
Pixley  were  the  only  men  in  Eaton  Township.  Dur- 
ing the  same  October,  1836,  James,  George  and  Wm. 
Southworth  moved  in  from  Orleans  County,  New 
York,  and  built  on  section  24  near  Mr.  Wall's,  thus 
adding  to  the  "Wall  Settlement."  (Here  are  con- 
flicting dates.    Wall  discovered  Kinne  in  October, 


1836,  but  we  are  assured  elsewhere  that  the  Kinne 
brothers  came  in  January,  1837.  It  is  probable 
that  this  discovery  and  the  arrival  of  the  South- 
worths  was  in  1837.)  The  first  schoolhouse  in  the 
four  townships  was  built  in  the  Wall  neighborhood 
in  1839,  but  the  first  school  was  taught  by  the  wife 
of  John  Eiley  in  her  house.  During  the  winter  of 
1836- '37,  Mr.  Wall  went  to  mill  with  an  ox  team 
to  Swainsville,  twenty  miles  beyond  Jackson,  but 
during  the  next  year  a  mill  was  started  in  Jackson 
only  thirty  miles  away. 

Facts  from  E.  A.  Foote's  oration:  The  first  birth 
in  the  east  half  of  the  county,  and  the  second  in  the 
entire  county,  was  Phoebe  K.  Searls,  daughter  of 
Samuel  Searls,  born  on  August  7, 1836.  The  mother, 
Eutli  Searls,  died  of  quick  consumption  the  follow- 
ing June  when  this  child  was  but  ten  months  old,  one 
of  the  most  pathetic  deaths  of  which  we  can  read. 
The  men  were  in  the  field  at  work.  No  one  else, 
save  the  infant,  was  in  the  house  when  she  died 
about  sunset.  There  was  only  one  other  woman  for 
many  miles  around.  Stephen  Kinne  and  wife  and 
brother  Amos  had  found  their  way  in  on  the  first  day 
of  January,  1837.  They  had  built  a  log  house  six- 
teen feet  square  just  south  of  Battle  Creek  and  two 
miles  south  of  Charlotte.  Stephen  Kinne  and  wife 
crossing  the  creek  upon  a  log  and  going  northeast 
across  the  present  fair  ground,  they  reached  the 
house  of  mourning  about  dark  and  remained  all 
night.    As  no  coffin  was  to  be  had  here  she  had  to 


be  taken  to  Bellevue  for  decent  burial.  Japhet 
Fisber,  their  hired  man,  started  before  daylight  for 
Bellevue  to  prepare  for  the  funeral.  They  put  bed- 
ding into  the  box  of  an  ox  sled  upon  which  they 
placed  the  lifeless  form.  Samuel  and  Jonathan,  with 
their  oxen  drawing  the  sled  over  rough  roads  and 
fording  streams,  went  to  Bellevue,  while  Stephen 
Kinne  and  wife  remained  to  care  for  the  children. 
Again  quoting  Mr.  Foote,  ''Uncle  Samuel  was  very 
badly  dressed  for  such  an  occasion.  He  had  worn 
out  all  of  his  clothes  working  hard  to  build  a  home 
for  that  woman.  His  corduroy  pants  were  in  tatters 
clear  to  his  knees.  His  '  wa  'mus '  was  very  ragged.  A 
fragment  of  an  old  woolen  cap  was  on  his  head.  But 
Japhet  Fisher  sent  his  trunk  of  clothes  by  David 
Kinne,  then  on  his  way  to  meet  Samuel.  They  met 
at  the  Indian  village  in  Walton  and  Uncle  Samuel 
was  decently  dressed.  The  hearts  of  Bellevue 
people  quickly  responded  to  the  call  of  Japhet 
Fisher.  They  turned  out  to  meet  the  ox  team.  The 
women  took  hold  and  laid  her  tenderly  in  a  coffin 
and  the  next  day  the  rites  were  performed.  Like 
many  another  mother  she  succumbed  to  unendur- 
able hardship  of  pioneer  life. 

"Although  Uncle  Samuel  had  to  take  the  young 
babe  back  to  New^  York,  though  his  home  and  hopes 
were  blasted,  he  did  not  give  up.  He  brought  back 
his  sister  Julia  to  keep  house  for  him.  They  had 
built  a  house  for  Uncle  Jonathan  further  west,  on 
Searls  street.    Jonathan  went  east  and  in  Novem- 


ber,  1837,  he  brought  back  his  wife,  Aunt  Sally 
Searls.  On  their  way  in  from  Bellevue  they  stayed 
over  night  at  Capt.  Hickok's  in  WaltoUo" 

It  was  this  log  house  of  Uncle  Jonathan 's  that  be- 
came, for  a  time,  the  headquarters  for  the  county. 
Aunt  Sally  did  the  county  cooking  for  years.  It  was 
perhaps  her  efficiency  and  popularity  that  gave  rise 
to  the  claim  that  Jonathan  Searls  was  the  first  set- 
tler. Aunt  Sally's  arrival  was  more  than  two  years 
after  the  Searls  brothers  had  first  settled  here,  still 
she  reports,  "We  seldom  saw  a  woman." 

Samuel  Hamlin  was  the  first  supervisor  in  the 
township  and  also  the  first  treasurer,  but  Wm.  Wall 
was  one  of  the  most  widely  known  of  the  pioneers, 
and  a  good  specimen  of  them  he  proved  to  be.  He 
had  the  will  and  the  energy  to  encounter  the  hard- 
ships of  pioneer  life  and  to  clear  away  the  dense 
forest.  "He  was  a  good  farmer,  a  good  father,  a 
good  neighbor,  a  valuable  citizen  and  in  every  sense 
of  the  word  a  good  man. ' '  The  first  girl  born  in  the 
township  was  his  daughter  Euth.  The  first  religious 
meeting  was  held  in  his  house,  the  sermon  being 
delivered  by  Rev.  Jackson.  The  first  marriage  was 
also  in  his  house  when  in  1837  Otis  V.  Cranson  mar- 
ried Elizabeth  Babcock.  In  the  fall  of  1838  Mr. 
Wall  narrowly  escaped  hydrophobia.  A  large  rabid 
wolf  passed  through  biting  every  animal  he  could 
meet.  He  bit  several  hogs  for  his  neighbors  and 
three  for  Mr.  Wall.  Not  thinking  that  the  wolf  was 
rabid  he  put  his  valuable  dog  in  pursuit.    He  fol- 


lowed  with  liis  axe  and  soon  found  the  dog  and  wolf 
in  deadly  embrace.  Mr.  Wall  seized  the  wolf  by  the 
tail  from  which  he  found  it  difficult  and  dangerous 
to  let  go.  After  a  fearful  tussle  of  a  full  hour  (or 
so  it  seemed)  the  man  and  dog  were  victorious  and 
the  wolf  was  killed  and  for  it  he  received  a  bounty  of 
eight  dollars.  The  dog  and  hogs  all  went  mad  about 
a  week  later  and  all  had  to  be  killed. 

The  first  framed  barns  in  Eaton  were  built  by 
James  Pixley  and  N.  P.  Frink  and  one  soon  after 
by  Amos  Kinne.  At  this  raising  Samuel  Searls  was 
the  boss.  He  ordered  the  men  to  set  up  the  bent. 
They,  thinking  it  was  fully  up,  made  no  move.  Then 
with  an  oath  he  said,  ''I  say,  set  it  up  there."  They 
did  and  the  bent  went  clear  over,  but  none  were 

James  Southworth  was  the  first  of  his  family  to 
move  in, ' '  settling  with  his  family  in  February,  1837. 
(Thus  confirming  my  surmise  written  above.)  He 
built  a  log  house  during  the  winter,  heating  the 
stones  for  the  chimney  back  that  the  mortar  might 
stick  to  them ;  the  chimney  was  then  built  of  mud  and 

Among  the  early  settlers  were  A.  L.  Baker, 
Benijah  Claflin,  Geo.  Allen  and  his  sons  Sidney  and 
Harry,  Nathan  P.  Frink,  Jonas  and  John  Childs. 
In  1844,  there  were  59  male  residents  in  the  present 
Township  of  Eaton.  They  came  at  first  by  way  of 
Kalamazoo,  then  Battle  Creek,  Gull  Prairie  and 
Bellevue.    Later  they  learned  of  a  shorter  route  to 


Eaton  County,  viz.  "gee  off"  at  Jackson  and  "liaw 
to  "  at  Spicerville ;  tlius  men  were  located  but  a  few 
miles  apart  and  not  to  discover  each  other  for  one 
or  even  two  years;  and  hence  conflicting  claims  to 
priority  of  settlement. 

Indians  were  everywhere  but  quite  harmless  to 
the  pioneers  of  Eaton  County.  Never  rapping  at  the 
door,  but  with  moccasined  feet  they  entered  our 
homes  as  silent  as  a  cat  to  utter  their  cheerful 
"hello"  which  was  pronounced,  glumly,  "Ugh,"  in 
the  startled  ear  of  the  busy  housewife.  Wild  ber- 
ries were  found  and  wild  game  was  abundant  and 
furnished  much  of  the  living  of  the  early  pioneers. 
Venison  suiDplied  the  place  of  beef  and  mutton,  so 
fully  that  I  was  quite  a  grown  lad  before  I  learned 
the  taste  of  beef.  Animals  that  would  soon  grow 
into  the  much  needed  oxen  and  cows  were  not  to  be 
readily  slaughtered.  In  fact  the  earlier  trappers, 
living  almost  entirely  upon  hunted  animals,  called 
the  flesh  of  the  fatter  animals  meat,  but  the  lean 
venison  of  the  deer  took  the  place  of,  and  by  them 
was  often  called  "bread."  Fierce  animals  abounded 
but,  unless  attacked,  were  seldom  in  any  measure 
dangerous.  Packs  of  wolves  could  often  be  heard 
howling  at  night  but,  like  bears,  they  were  shy  and 
very  seldom  seen,  but  both  were  sufficiently  com- 
mon to  commit  unwelcome  depredations.  Pork  was 
the  favorite  meat  for  bears,  but  wolves  took  the 
sheep  and  small  young  animals.  I  have  heard  many 
stories  of  wolves  following  at  the  heels  of  a  man 


walking  through  the  forest  at  night  and  carrying 
fresh  meat  upon  his  back,  but  never  of  actual  at- 
tack. If  he  carried  a.  torch,  which  was  a  needed  ac- 
cessory, he  avoided  any  possible  danger  by  turning 
and  swinging  this  in  the  faces  of  his  pursuers.  The 
following  approaches  as  near  to  an  actual  attack  as 
any  authentic  story  I  have  read  so  I  quote  it  entire : 
''In  the  fall  of  1837,  Wm.  Wall,  Chauncy  Free- 
man, James  Pixley  and  George  and  James  South- 
worth  went  on  a  deer  hunt  in  the  north  part  of  the 
township,  on  a  branch  of  the  Thornapple  River.  J. 
Southw^orth  stationed  himself  on  the  runway,  while 
the  others  separated  for  the  purpose  of  driving  in 
the  deer.  Ere  long  they  heard  the  report  of  South- 
worth's  rifle,  followed  quickly  by  a  second,  and  next 
they  heard  him  call.  They  returned  at  once  and 
found  he  had  been  beset  by  two  large  gray  wolves. 
He  had  seen  three  of  them  passing  and  shot  one, 
whereupon  the  others  turned  and  came  close  to  him, 
one  on  each  side,  before  he  had  time  to  reload.  As 
one  of  the  animals  stepped  back  a  little  Southworth 
poured  some  powder  into  his  rifle  and  rolled  a  bullet 
down,  and  shot  the  brute  in  the  neck,  but  did  not 
kill  him.  At  that  juncture  Wm.  Wall  appeared,  and 
the  wounded  wolf  went  into  a  thicket.  Pixley,  Free- 
man and  Wall  followed,  to  drive  him  out,  while  the 
two  Southworths  stood  ready  to  shoot.  Mr.  Freeman 
came  upon  the  wolf  lying  down  and  looking  him 
in  the  face.  He  forgot  to  shoot.  The  brute  ran  out 
of  the  thicket  and  George  Southworth  shot  him.    Mr. 


Wall  said  tlie  wolf  was  the  largest  he  ever  saw, 
standing  as  high  as  his  waist." 

Some  wolf,  eh !  brother  pioneers  ?  But  exaggera- 
tion can  well  be  forgiven.  It  was  an  exciting 
occasion.  The  w^olves  would  not  probably  have 
come  near  Mr.  Southworth  if  he  had  refrained  from 
shooting.  His  temerity  cost  them  all  a  good  scare. 
Such  were  the  vicissitudes  of  pioneer  life  in  Eaton 


The  township  now  called  Hamlin  was,  as  we  have 
seen,  for  a  time  a  part  of  Bellevue  and  later  of 
Eaton  Township.  By  act  of  legislature  approved 
March  20,  1841,  it  was  ''set  off  and  organized  into 
a  township  by  the  name  of  Tyler,  and  the  first  town- 
ship meeting  shall  be  held  at  the  house  of  Freeman 
H.  Barr  in  said  township."  It  was  evidently  named 
for  John  Tyler,  then  vice  president,  but  the  legis- 
lature could  scarcely  have  foreseen  that  within  a 
month  John  Tyler  should  become  president  to  fill 
out  three  years  and  eleven  months  of  Taylor 's  presi- 
dential term.  The  township  so  remained  for  nine 
years  until  the  village  of  Eaton  Rapids  having 
grown  upon  its  north  boundary  line,  and  the  town 
meetings  and  most  of  the  offices  being  held  in  the 
village  it  was  petitioned  to  have  the  two  united.  By 
act  of  legislature  March  14,  1850,  the  two  were 
united  in  one  with  the  name  of  Eaton  Rapids,  and 
the  first  meeting  "shall  be  held  at  the  Eaton  Rapids 
Hotel  on  the  first  Monday  in  April,  1850."  It  was 
provided  that  the  present  officers  shall  cast  lots  to 
see  which  shall  continue  in  office  to  conduct  the  elec- 

This  union  continued  nineteen  years  until  by  act 
approved  March  26,  1869,  this  township  was  again 
detached  and  given  the  name  of  Hamlin  after  one 



of  its  early  and  distinguislied  settlers,  Samuel  Ham- 
lin.   Of  its  earliest  settlement  there  is  no  dispute. 

Five  townships  in  Eaton  County  were  first  set- 
tled in  1836,  but  John  Montgomery  led  them  all  by 
settling  here  on  the  first  day  of  January.  A  man  of 
such  sterling  worth  and  enterprise  as  to  demand 
here  extended  biography.  A  descendant  of  the 
proud  and  ancient  Scottish  family  of  Montgomery, 
he  was  born  in  the  north  of  Ireland  and  brought 
here  when  but  one  year  old,  and  lived  for  some  time 
in  Oneida  County,  New  York.  On  March  2,  1831, 
he  set  out  on  foot  for  Michigan.  He  walked  all  the 
way  through  Canada  and  back  again,  reaching  home 
the  last  day  of  March.  He  had  purchased  one  hun- 
dred sixty  acres  in  Washtenaw  County.  Here  he 
learned  what  many  pioneers  were  very  slow  to  learn, 
that  burr-oak  plains  are  very  much  more  desirable 
than  heavily  timbered  lands.  In  1835  he  sold  out 
for  $2150  and  started  in  December  for  the  wilds  of 
Eaton  County.  He  purchased  nearly  five  hundred 
acres  on  ' '  Montgomery  Plains. ' '  On  reaching  home 
he  returned  almost  immediately,  taking  a  yoke  of 
oxen  and  accompanied  by  his  brother  Robert  and 
Mr.  Shepherd.  From  Henrietta,  Jackson  County, 
they  cut  their  road  for  twenty  miles  and  spent  three 
days  building  a  shanty.  He  returned  for  his 
family  and  on  January  first  moved  in,  having 
hired  a  Mr.  Nobles  to  come  with  one  team. 
His  brother  Robert  and  Mr.  Bush  also  came. 
$2150  was  a  princely  sum  in  those  days  and  the  wis- 


dom  of  Ms  selection  of  burr-oak  plains  was  quickly 
demonstrated.  He  was  able  to  sow  sixty  acres  of 
wheat  the  first  year  and  realized  a  good  crop  which 
found  ready  sale  at  his  door  at  $1.00  a  bushel,  for 
neighbors  were  now  surrounding  him.  Col.  Mont- 
gomery was  elected  supervisor  a  number  of  times 
and  in  1849  he  was  elected  to  the  State  legislature. 
He  began  his  military  career  in  Washtenaw  County, 
was  minute  man  in  the  Black  Hawk  War  and,  pre- 
vious to  the  Toledo  hostilities,  was  commissioned 
as  Major  and  promoted  to  Lieutenant-Colonel. 
When  in  the  legislature  he  was  commissioned  by 
Governor  Barry  as  Brigadier-General,  but  the  earl- 
ier title  clung  to  him  as  to  ''Teddy"  Roosevelt.  He 
was  alway  Colonel  to  his  friends  and  admirers.  But 
to  return  to  his  neighbors. 

Land  was  purchased  from  the  government  in 
Hamlin  in  1835  by  twenty-three  different  persons 
and  in  1836  by  eighty-one,  a  list  far  too  extended 
to  recite  here.  Doubtless  some  of  these  were  specu- 
lators who  never  saw  the  land. 

The  Colonel's  first  neighbor  was  Silas  Loomis, 
six  miles  away.  Ira  Turner  and  J.  W.  Toles  came 
soon  and  a  little  later  Elijah  Wilcox.  In  September 
came  Johnson  Montgomery.  His  land  on  ''Mont- 
gomery Plains"  was  across  the  town  line  but  for 
a  time  he  made  his  home  with  his  brother  the  Col- 
onel. The  first  township  meeting  was  at  Spicerville 
and  from  a  published  article  by  Fred  Spicer,  I  copy : 

"I  came  to  Eaton  County  with  my  father,  Amos 


Spicer,  my  mother,  two  sisters,  my  uncle,  P.  E. 
Spicer,  and  cousin,  Daniel  Bateman,  all  from  Mid- 
dlebury,  Ohio.  On  the  third  day  of  June,  1836,  we 
landed  at  Spicerville  and  found  a  double  log  house 
which  my  father  and  uncle,  P.  E.  Spicer,  Daniel 
Bateman,  Benjamin  Knight,  Charles  Hanchet  and 
son  had  built.  It  was  without  door  or  window,  but 
had  puncheon  for  floors  and  boxwood  bark  for  upper 
floor,  w^hich  material  they  procured  from  the  forest 
without  the  help  of  saw  mill  for  there  was  no  mill 
of  any  description  nearer  than  Clinton,  fifty  miles 
from  us  and  no  neighbor,  as  we  believed,  nearer 
than  twelve  miles,  save  the  red  man's  wigwam. 

''This  region  was  without  a  road  except  the  old 
Clinton  road  which  my  uncle  Samuel  Hamlin  and 
C.  C.  Darling  had  cut  through  from  Clinton  to  the 
Thornapple  Eiver  the  fall  before.  This  road  had 
just  been  completed  and  accepted  when  Amos  and 
P.  E.  Spicer  and  Daniel  Bateman  arrived  at  Jack- 
son in  the  fall  of  1835.  Amos  Spicer  had  come  to 
seek  a  home  and  would  like  to  find  a  good  water- 
power  as  he  purposed  to  build  a  saw  and  grist  mill 
if  he  could  find  a  good  location.  Uncle  Samuel  Ham- 
lin and  Mr.  Darling  told  him  that  Grand  River  and 
Spring  Brook  both  had  good  powers.  With  knap- 
sacks stored  with  blankets,  pork,  beans  and  sand- 
wiches they  started  for  the  north  woods  with  no 
guides  save  the  blazed  trees  of  the  government 
surveys  made  some  twelve  years  before. 

"This  party  consisted  of  Amos  and  P.  E.  Spicer, 


Samuel  Hamlin,  Daniel  Bateman  and  C.  C.  Darling. 
They  spent  over  a  week  wandering  around  and 
looking  over  lands  even  to  where  Eaton  Rapids  now 
stands.  Amos  Spicer  had  saved  money  as  master 
millwright  and  considerable  of  the  lands  they  se- 
lected was  taken  by  him  as  the  records  still  show. 
When  their  grub  was  gone  they  feasted,  not  on 
'locust  and  wild  honey'  but  upon  wild  honey  and 
wild  turkey,  both  of  which  abounded.  A  tiresome 
journey  brought  them  back  to  Jackson  and  the  next 
day  they  started  for  the  land  office  at  Kalamazoo  to 
secure  the  lands  they  had  selected  before  anyone 
should  jump  their  claims  as  was  often  done  by  a  set 
of  hawk-eyed  fellows  often  lying  in  wait  about  the 
land  office.  They  got  back  to  Jackson  about  De- 
cember 1st,  1835,  and  then  returned  to  their  home 
in  Ohio.  The  next  spring  Amos  and  P.  E.  Spicer 
returned  to  Michigan  with  a  strong  wagon  laden 
with  provisions  and  household  goods  and  drawn  by 
four  yoke  of  oxen  and  these  driven  by  Daniel  Bate- 
man and  Charles  Hanchet.  A  one-horse  wagon,  two 
cows  and  a  calf  escorted  them.  They  reached  Jack- 
son about  the  25th  of  May  and  the  next  day  started 
for  the  woods  at  Spicerville  where  they  built  the 
cabin  before  described  and  which  we  reached  on  the 
third  day  of  June,  1836. ' ' 

As  soon  as  possible  a  sawmill  was  started  upon 
the  same  site  where  three  successive  mills  have 
stood.  The  family  consisted  of  all  those  named 
above  with  George  Allyn  and  about  fourteen  hired 


men.  The  three  women  here  were,  as  always  among 
pioneers,  fully  as  active  as  the  men  for  in  addition 
to  these  they  had  to  feed  two  to  four  land  lookers 
and  shelter  them  over  night  for  they  had  nowhere 
else  to  go.  All  timber  and  lumber  used  in  construct- 
ing this  mill  was  hewn  by  hand  from  the  forest 
products.  After  a  long  summer's  work  the  mill  be- 
gan to  turn  its  water  wheel  in  October  and  sawing 
by  water  power  was  begun.  P.  E.  Spicer  and  Ben- 
jamin Knight  were  boss  sa^\^ers.  They  found 
ready  market  for  what  lumber  they  could  spare  but 
most  of  their  cut  was  used  for  the  gristmill  and 
three  framed  houses  they  w^ere  starting  at  Eaton 
Rapids.  This  beginning  of  a  village  was  all  sawed, 
framed  and  hauled  from  Spicerville.  A  rude  vil- 
lage plat  was  surveyed  early  in  the  spring  of  1836. 
Two  ox  sleds  drawn  by  four  yoke  of  oxen  hauled  the 
first  run  of  stone  to  the  mill  in  Eaton  Rapids  where 
they  continued  to  grind  for  more  than  forty  years. 
Previous  to  this  corn  had  been  pounded  upon  flat 
stumps  for  meal  and  wheat  flour  was  almost  un- 
known, TMien  the  mill  was  raised  men  came  twenty 
miles  to  help.  Bateman  and  Knight  spent  two  days 
inviting  men.  They  came  the  night  before ;  helped 
raise  the  mill  the  next  day,  had  a  dance  at  night,  and 
went  home  the  third  day. 

Fred  Knight  again  relates  the  discovery  of  their 
neighbors :  '  *  The  first  we  knew  we  had  neighbors 
on  Montgomery's  Plains,  one  of  our  cows  strayed 
away  and  Daniel  Bateman,  while  looking  for  it,  came 


to  tlie  river  and,  hearing  some  cowbell  on  the  other 
side,  pulled  off  his  boots  and  pants  and  crossed  over 
and  followed  until  he  found  the  cattle.  Hearing 
someone  pounding  a  little  further  on  went  on  to 
where  he  found  John  Montgomery  splitting  rails 
on  the  farm  where  his  stone  house  now  stands. 
Meeting  a  stranger  in  the  woods  we  would  learn  his 
location,  section,  town  and  range  and  know  his  dis- 
tance thereby  from  our  habitation.  Thus  chance 
acquaintances  soon  became  neighbors  and  soon 
friends,  tried  and  true,  helping  each  other  in  divers 
ways  at  raisings  and  logging  bees  for  those  who  had 
nothing.  All  of  this  helped  to  bind  us  together  as 
in  one  family  as  only  can  be  witnessed  in  pioneer 
settlements. ' ' 

Hon.  Amos  Spicer  was  one  of  the  most  highly 
honored  and  esteemed  citizens. 

Allen  Conklin  assisted  in  building  the  first  bridge 
across  Grand  River  at  the  county  line. 

Rev.  Wm.  W.  Crane  was  the  first  resident  minister 
and  is  said  to  have  married  all  the  people  and  to 
have  preached  all  the  funeral  sermons. 

George  W.  Bentley,  Jacob  Gilman  and  T.  N. 
Stringham  were  among  early  settlers  and  the  list  of 
resident  taxpayers  in  1844  includes  one  hundred  one 
names.  Wm.  W.  Crane  was  the  first  supervisor 
thus  supervising  their  ways  on  earth  as  well  as  the 
way  to  heaven. 

The  first  teacher  in  Tyler  was  Miss  Ruth  Horn 
who  taught  in  1837    in   the   shanty   of    George    Y. 


Cowan.  Miss  Lucina  Emerson  taught  in  1838,  and 
previous  to  1849  tliirty-six  teachers  had  been  li- 
censed in  this  township. 

One  numerous  family,  because  of  their  priority  in 
several  aspects,  merit  especial  mention.  Six  broth- 
ers named  Montgomery  were  early  pioneers  of 
Hamlin  and  its  immediate  vicinity.  The  father  of 
these  was  Eobert  Montgomery  of  Ireland  but  of 
Scottish  descent.  When  twenty-one  years  old  he  mar- 
ried Anna  Sproul,  then  but  seventeen.  They  became 
the  parents  of  sixteen  children,  ten  of  whom  lived 
to  maturity.  Three  years  after  their  marriage,  in 
the  fall  of  1805,  they  emigrated  to  America  then  hav- 
ing one  son,  John,  one  year  old.  His  story  I  have  al- 
ready told — settling  in  Hamlin  on  the  first  day  of 
January,  1836,  and  believing  himself  the  earliest 
settler  in  the  east  half  of  the  county  although  it 
proved  later  that  the  Searls  brothers,  on  the  prairie 
near  Charlotte,  had  preceded  him.  He  became  the 
father  of  four  children,  Alvira,  Johnson,  Scott,  and 

His  brother  Johnson  was  a  pioneer  here  a  little 
later  but  the  same  season.  He  became  father  of 
seven,  viz:  Peter  Dudley,  Helen,  Amanda,  Celesta, 
Ezra,  Jock  and  Robert.  The  latter  became  Supreme 
Court  Judge  in  Michigan. 

Thomas,  of  whom  I  learn  but  little,  became  father 
of  Eliza,  Philinda,  Mary  and  Warren. 

Robert,  I  have  already  mentioned  as  one  of  the 
earliest  comers,  became  father  of  Alonzo,  Almeron, 


Clifford,  Sarah,  Fred  and  Frank.  Clifford  and 
Fred,  I  think  are  still  living  in  1922. 

William,  the  fifth  brother,  came  at  a  little  later 
date.  He  became  father  of  Elmina,  Martin  V., 
Richard  A.,  William  B.,  Louisa  and  Malvina.  Of 
these  Martin  V.  was  doubtless  best  known,  a  prom- 
inent attorney  of  Eaton  Rapids  and  Lansing,  Com- 
missioner of  Patents  at  Washington,  then  Judge  of 
District  Court,  D.  C,  then  returned  to  Lansing  as- 
piring to  U.  S.  Senate  which,  unfortunately,  he  did 
not  reach.  His  brother  Richard  was  also  a  promi- 
nent lawyer  of  Lansing.  The  next  brother,  William 
B.,  is  now  residing  in  Detroit  and  to  him  I  am  in- 
debted for  much  of  this  information. 

The  youngest  of  the  six  pioneer  brothers  was 
Alexander  who  had  no  children.  He  with  his  broth- 
er William,  went  to  California  in  1849,  the  earliest  of 
the  argonauts,  going  around  ''the  horn"  in  a  sailing 
vessel  and  being  at  one  time  fifty-six  days  without 
sight  of  land.  I  do  not  learn  that  they  returned  with 
acquired  wealth  but  they  certainly  acquired  addi- 
tional pioneer  experiences. 


Considering  the  townships  of  the  county  in  their 
order  of  settlement  we  now  skip  diagonally  across 
the  county  to  Vermontville.  Its  history  is  unique. 
The  first  land  ever  purchased  in  the  county  was  on 
section  30  in  this  township  by  A.  Sumner  in  1829. 
Why  selected  or  purchased,  nor  of  its  disposition, 
we  know  not.  Perhaps  like  the  second  purchase 
which  was  in  Oneida,  ''It  was  sold  for  taxes  four 
years  later."  Excepting  for  this  one  purchase  it 
was  an  unbroken  government  parcel  when  the  agents 
of  the  colony  arrived  to  make  their  selection. 

The  Vermont  Colony  was  essentially  a  religious 
colony  of  Congregationalists  who  planned  as  nearly 
as  possible  after  the  model  of  the  Pilgrim  Fathers. 

In  1835,  the  Rev.  Sylvester  Cochrane  visited  Mich- 
igan planning  to  settle  permanently  but  he  found 
settlers  so  scattered  that  it  seemed  impossible  that 
they  might  have  either  religious  or  educational  ad- 
vantages. He  conceived  the  plan  of  colonization 
and  returned  to  East  Pultney  and  Castleton,  Ver- 
mont, and  disclosed  his  plans  to  prospective  emi- 
grants. On  March  27,  1836,  at  a  large  meeting, 
plans  were  perfected.  Very  extended  ''Eules  and 
Regulations ' '  were  adopted  and  signed.  After  num- 
erous ''whereases"  and  "resolved,"  eleven  definite 
rules  were  adopted,  among  them  to  liberally  sup- 



port  the  gospel,  to  observe  the  Sabbath  and  to  ''per- 
petuate the  same  literary  privileges  we  are  here  per- 
mitted to  enjoy."  Forty-two  men  signed  this  and 
a  prohibition  pledge  was  signed  by  all.  It  was 
"voted"  that  a  committee  of  two  be  appointed  to 
investigate  the  character  and  standing  of  all  appli- 
cants to  unite  with  the  colony;  that  three  agents  be 
selected  to  visit  Michigan  and  select  suitable  lands ; 
that  they  be  authorized  to  purchase  5,760  acres  of 
land,  nine  square  miles  or  the  fourth  of  a  township ; 
that  no  individual  should  be  permitted  to  take  more 
than  one  farm  of  160  acres  and  one  village  lot  of 
ten  acres;  that  anyone  joining  the  colony  shall  ad- 
vance $212.50,  the  price  of  the  170  acres ;  that  each 
one  shall  also  give  his  note  for  $25  payable  in  two 
years  to  apply  toward  building  a  meeting-house. 

Rev.  S.  Cochrane  and  I.  C.  Culver  were  chosen 
the  committee  for  investigating  characters  of  appli- 
cants and  Col.  J.  B.  Scovill,  Deacon  S.  S.  Church 
and  Wm.  G.  Henry  were  elected  agents  to  select  and 
purchase  l^nds. 

They  started  from  Vermont  April  2,  1836,  and 
S.  S.  Church  afterward  wrote  an  extended  descrip- 
tion of  their  journey  and  research  from  which  I 
quote  as  follows : 

"From  Troy,  New  York,  we  started  on  our  ex- 
pedition by  stage.  The  roads  were  extremely  bad 
and  much  of  the  time  we  made  but  two  miles  an  hour 
and  were  obliged  to  travel  by  night  which  was  very 
fatiguing.    We  spent  the  first  Sabbath  at  Auburn. 


We  planned  to  go  through  Canada  but  at  Lewiston 
we  were  advised  not  to  attempt  it  because  of  the 
condition  of  the  roads.  We  changed  our  plan  and 
went  to  Buffalo,  Lake  Erie  was  frozen  over  so  we 
continued  by  stage  to  Erie,  Pennsylvania.  Ice  had 
so  cleared  that  a  boat  would  start  for  Detroit  soon. 
Here  we  arrived  safely  but  were  obliged  to  wait  a 
day  and  night  for  the  stage.  Here  again  the  roads 
were  bad  and  the  stage  an  open  wagon.  We  were 
greatly  fatigued  upon  our  arrival  at  Battle  Creek. 
We  went  to  Kalamazoo  and  returned  to  Battle  Creek 
and  thence  to  Grand  Rapids.  We  obtained  a  gTiide 
and,  other  colonists  joining  us,  we  explored  Barry 
county  and  returned  to  Battle  Creek.  We  found  it 
very  difficult  to  find  a  tract  of  land  unbroken  by 
swamps,  marshes  and  cat-holes  and  were  well  nigh 

''AATiile  recruiting  at  Battle  Creek  we  met  Col. 
Barns  of  Gull  Prairie,  who  had  assisted  in  survey- 
ing Eaton  County,  had  purchased  land  on  the  prairie 
near  its  center  and  had  secured  for  it  the  future 
county  seat.  He  assured  us  the  amount  of  land  re- 
quired could  be  found  in  the  present  township  of 
Vermontville  and  he  accompanied  us  to  the  land 
office  where  I  obtained  a  plat  and  found  that  but  a 
single  entry  had  been  made.  I  there  received  a 
letter  from  others  of  our  colony  who  were  exploring 
in  Ionia  County.  At  Battle  Creek  we  met  others  of 
our  newly  arrived  colonists.  We  were  two  days 
procuring  supplies  and  reaching    our    destination. 


The  third  day  we  explored  the  grounds  that  pleased 
us.  All  were  satisfied.  We  went  to  Kalamazoo  and 
on  May  27,  1836,  I  purchased  the  land  the  colonists 
needed  and  about  twenty  lots  in  addition  for  others. 
We  then  returned  to  the  purchase  and  selected  the 
south  half  of  section  21  for  the  village.  W.  J.  Squier 
had  his  surveying  instruments  with  him  and  we  laid 
out  the  village  as  planned  in  Vermont. 

''I  returned  to  Vermont  for  my  family  but  W.  J. 
Squier,  W.  S.  Fairfield,  Samuel  and  Charles  Shel- 
don, Levi  Merrill,  C.  T.  Moffitt  and  others  stayed 
and  commenced  chopping  and  clearing.  They  built 
a  house  for  the  use  of  colonists  upon  their  arrival, 
and  homes  for  themselves.  I  returned  to  Vermont 
to  bring  my  family.  Counting  a  man  'settled'  only 
when  his  wife  is  with  him,  Bezaleel  Taft  was  the 
first  settler,  coming  in  that  summer  with  his  family. 
Reuben  Sanford  moved  in  v/ith  his  wife  and  one 
child  and  soon  after  a  son  was  born  being  the  first 
birth  in  Vermontville.  During  the  fall  Jacob  Fuller 
and  wife,  E.  S.  Mead  and  wife,  Jay  Hawkins  with 
wife  and  child,  and  Mrs.  Fairfield  arrived. 

* '  On  the  first  Monday  in  October,  agreeable  to  the 
articles  of  the  colony,  a  large  number  of  the  col- 
onists assembled  at  the  colony  house,  and  after 
prayer  by  Rev.  Cochrane  they  proceeded  to  distrib- 
ute the  lands  agreeable  to  the  ninth  resolution  of 
the  articles.  It  was  voted  to  appoint  a  committee 
to  make  an  assessment  upon  those  farm  lots  which, 
by  location,  were  most  desirable  and  valuable,  to 


raise  tlie  sum  of  $400  for  expenses  incurred  by  the 
purchasing  agents.  Tliey  then  voted  to  distribute 
the  farm  lots  by  lot,  and  each  man  drew  and  was 
satisfied.  I  arrived  at  Battle  Creek  with  my  wife 
and  six  children  about  the  middle  of  November, 
1836.  Such  was  the  condition  of  the  roads  it  took 
nine  days  to  come  from  Detroit  to  Battle  Creek  by 
wagon.  All  colonists  had  agreed  to  settle  upon  their 
land  by  the  autumn  of  '37  or  their  money  might  be 
returned  and  their  land  sold  to  another.  Several 
colonists  arrived  at  this  time  with  their  families, 
among  them  Rev.  Cochrane. 

"The  road  from  Bellevue,  a  mere  underbrushed 
trail,  was  now  so  cut  with  travel  that  it  was  well 
nigh  impassable.  Some  families  were  compelled  to 
camp  out  in  the  woods  over  night.  Mud  was  every- 
where and  the  Thornapple  River  overflowed  its 
banks  so  that,  although  there  was  a  bridge,  it  was 
at  times  impossible  to  approach  it. 

**In  the  month  of  April,  1837,  W.  J.  Squier  ar- 
rived at  'the  bottoms'  and  the  water  was  so  high 
that  neither  his  family  nor  his  teams  could  cross 
over.  We  learned  of  this  and  Roger  Griswold  and 
W.  S.  Fairchild  waded  the  river  and  took  provisions 
and  took  them  to  an  Indian  shanty  not  far  off  where 
they  stayed  all  night.  The  next  morning  Mr.  Gris- 
wold  ferried  Mrs.  Squier  and  her  little  child  across 
the  stream  then  some  sixty  rods  in  width.  During 
this  month  the  Rev.  Calvin  Clark  of  Marshall  visited 
us  and  preached  the  first  sermon  here  before  our 


pastor  and  his  family  had  arrived.  Twenty-five 
years  later  he  again  preached  to  us  at  our  quarter 
century  celebration. 

''In  the  month  of  March,  1837,  the  wife  of  E.  S. 
Mead  sickened  and  died  very  suddenly.  There  was 
no  physician  to  be  had;  the  ladies  did  what  they 
could  but  in  vain.  During  the  season  S.  S.  Hoyt, 
who  lived  six  miles  from  any  white  inhabitant,  and 
whose  wife  had  not  seen  a  woman  for  many  months, 
brought  his  wife  on  an  ox  sled  to  the  colony.  After 
two  or  three  weeks  she  returned  home  rejoicing  in 
the  possession  of  a  fine  daughter.  Nor  was  this  an 
isolated  case.  One  from  Chester  occurred  the  same 
season  and  one  from  a  remote  part  of  our  town. 

''Indians  resided  part  of  the  time  in  our  vicinity 
for  several  years.  They  were  never  troublesome 
but  gladly  exchanged  their  product  for  ours.  Sev- 
eral families  of  Indians  came  from  Canada  and  re- 
mained here  about  a  year.  They  were  more  civilized 
than  our  Indians  and  could  talk  very  good  English. 
They  hunted  and  trapped  and  took  jobs  at  chopping. 
Some  of  them  were  devoted  Christians,  held  Sabbath 
meetings  or  attended  our  church.  One  of  their 
squaws  died  here  and  their  men  made  a  coffin  and 
desired  Christian  burial.  Rev.  Mr.  Day  had 
preached  at  Mackinaw  and  was  at  this  time  laboring 
with  a  Methodist  class  here.  He  preached  the  ser- 
mon through  an  interpreter,  the  Indians  attending. 

"AVolves  were  abundant  but  seldom  troublesome 
except  by  their  nightly  serenades  and  occasionally 


taking  a  young  animal.  We  often  found  tliey  fol- 
lowed us  when  we  went  to  a  neighbor's  in  the  eve- 
ning but  unseen  by  us.  In  the  fall  of  1836,  Orin  Dick- 
inson came  from  Bellevue,  driving  a  horse  team. 
Roger  Griswold  started  to  drive  the  team  back  to 
Bellevue.  Night  overtook  him  in  the  woods  and  he 
found  it  impossible  to  proceed.  Thinking  he  was 
near  Bellevue  he  ventured  to  halloo.  He  was  an- 
swered by  a  wolf.  On  calling  again  others  answered 
from  different  directions  until  it  culminated  in  a 
grand  wolf  chorus,  continuing  to  cheer  the  gloomy 
hours  the  whole  night  through  with  their  heart  thrill- 
ing melody. ' ' 

Mr.  Church  wrote  a  long  story  of  a  lad,  five  years 
old,  who  was  lost  in  the  woods  and  the  whole  colony 
searched  for  him  two  days  and  finally  found  him  un- 
injured save  by  the  mosquitoes;  and  of  a  cow  that 
was  lodged  during  high  water  of  the  Thornapple 
upon  two  large  logs  where  she  remained  several 
days  until  the  water  subsided.  Feed  was  carried 
to  her  in  a  boat  for  several  days  whereupon  she  was 
milked  and  the  milk  boated  homeward.  He  tells  too 
of  a  memorable  bear  hunt  joined  in  by  all  the  col- 
onists. Bruin  was  killed  and  his  pelt  sold  for  $4.00 
and  with  the  proceeds  a  Sunday  school  library  was 

The  first  frame  house  was  built  by  W.  J.  Squier 
and  the  first  brick  house  by  Roger  Griswold.  With 
characteristic  energy  he  employed  masons  from 
Battle  Creek  who  laid  the  basement  wall  and  walls 


for  the  GMtire  two  stories  within  two  weeks  and  re- 
turned home. 

The  first  school  was  in  the  summer  of  1838,  in  a 
private  house.  In  the  fall  a  log  schoolhouse  was 
erected  in  which  schools  were  regularly  taught  three 
or  four  months  every  summer  by  a  female  teacher 
and  for  the  same  time  each  winter  by  a  male  teacher. 
In  1843  an  academic  association  was  formed  to 
build  a  structure  to  serve  the  double  purpose  of 
academy  and  a  church.  Rev.  Wm.  U.  Benedict,  a 
Presbyterian  minister,  a  graduate  of  Williams  Col- 
lege and  of  Auburn  Seminary,  was  employed  as 
teacher  for  several  years.  He  came  from  his  pas- 
torate in  Cayuga  County,  New  York.  This  academy 
was  generally  attended  by  the  aspiring  teachers  of 
this  and  Barry  Counties,  thus  Vermontville  became 
the  "Athens  of  Eaton  County"  until  that  proud 
title  was  won  away  by  Olivet. 

An  incident  illustrates  the  piety  of  these  Protes- 
tant pioneers.  The  founder  of  the  colony,  Rev.  S. 
Cochrane,  was  absent  minded  and  very  little  given 
to  manual  labor  but  he  became  enamored  of  the  en- 
ticing task  of  maple  sugar  making.  One  Sunday  in 
springtime  the  colonists  were  assembled  for  wor- 
ship but  no  pastor  appeared.  After  long  delay  a 
committee  was  appointed  to  visit  his  home  and 
learn  of  his  possible  sickness  or  death.  (No  tele- 
phones at  that  time. )  They  finally  found  him  in  his 
sugar  bush  diligently  boiling  sap  and  entirely  ob- 
livious of  the  sacred  character  of  the  day.    He  had 


failed  to  "remember"  tlie  Sabbath  day.  They 
never  forgave  him.  Rev.  AV.  U.  Benedict  succeeded 
him  in  the  pastorate. 

This  township  was  organized  by  act  of  legislature 
approved  March  11,  1837,  to  include  the  northw^est 
one-quarter  of  the  county.  Three  other  townships 
have  since  been  taken  from  this  territory. 

Daniel  Barber  and  E.  H.  Barber,  I  think  not 
named  above,  were  early  and  very  prominent  resi- 
dents here.  In  April,  1837,  a  special  election  was 
held  to  fill  a  vacancy  in  the  legislature  caused  by 
the  death  of  Ezra  Convis.  Twelve  votes  w^ere  cast, 
all  for  Sands  McCamly.  In  1844,  there  were  re- 
corded fifty-nine  resident  taxpayers. 

The  assessor's  books  show  the  following  products 
of  the  town  in  1846 :  419  tons  of  hay,  395  bushels  of 
rye,  1884  bushels  of  wheat,  371  bushels  of  barley, 
5100  pounds  of  beef,  48,125  pounds  of  pork,  7,350 
pounds  of  butter,  1,330  pounds  of  cheese,  12,430 
pounds  of  maple  sugar,  1,463  pounds  of  wool,  140 
pounds  of  flax,  1,383  bushels  of  oats,  4,353  of  corn, 
59  of  buckwheat,  3,993  of  potatoes. 

The  first  hotel  keeper  was  Wells  R.  Martin.  The 
following  were  the  early  supervisors  in  order :  W.  J. 
Squier,  E.  H.  Barber,  Henry  Robinson,  Wells  R. 
Martin,  Henry  Robinson,  W.  U.  Benedict,  Willard 
Davis,  W.  S.  Frink,  Roger  Griswold,  Artemas 
Smith,  R.  W.  Griswold,  Willard  Davis,  Wells  R. 

The  proudest  product  of  Vermontville,  and  per- 


liaps  of  the  entire  county,  is  tlie  Hon.  Ed.  W.  Bar- 
ber, reared  in  Vermontville  from  liis  eleventh  year 
to  early  manhood  when  he  became  clerk  of  our  State 
Legislature,  then  of  United  States  Congress  for  a 
term  of  years  and  later  assistant  postmaster  gen- 
eral during  the  Grant  administration  and  still 
later  editor  of  the  Jackson  Patroit,  when  his  edi- 
torials for  their  pungency  and  erudition  became 
famed  through  many  States.  He  has  twice  given 
most  able  and  eloquent  orations  at  our  annual 
pioneer  meetings.  Now  in  his  ninety-sixth  year  he 
resides  in  Florida  but  writes  with  the  vigor  of  early 
manhood.  I  append  the  following  item  from  his 

"In  October,  1839,  when  my  father,  E.  H.  Barber, 
moved  in  with  his  wife,  four  boys,  an  ox  team,  wagon 
and  cow,  we  left  Bellevue  before  the  sun  was  up, 
and  stopped  long  enough  in  the  woods  to  eat  a 
lunch,  feed  the  oxen  and  extract  some  milk  from 
the  brindle  cow,  and  about  nine  o'clock  in  the  eve- 
ning arrived  in  Vermontville  in  a  rain  storm  which 
set  in  at  the  close  of  the  day.  S.  B.  Gates  owned 
the  first  log  house  and  he  came  out  with  an  old 
fashioned  tin  lantern  and  a  tallow  dip  to  light  and 
guide  us  to  our  destination  a  mile  further  on.  For 
a  mile  or  two  north  of  Bellevue  the  road  had  been 
chopped  out  four  rods  wide,  and  also  for  half  a 
mile  or  so  south  of  Vermontville.  The  rest  of  the 
way  the  track  was  through  the  woods  and  some- 
times hard  to  find  on  account  of  the  fallen  leaves. 


But  we  made  a  mile  an  liour  that  last  one  of  eight 
days  from  Detroit  and  three  weeks  from  Benson, 
Vermont,  and  reached  our  stumpy  Canaan  at  last. ' ' 


By  act  of  the  legislature  approved  February  16, 
1842,  the  Township  of  Sunfield  was  separated  from 
its  parent  township,  Vermontville,  organized  and 
given  its  present  name  and  the  first  township  meet- 
ing was  ordered  to  be  held  at  the  house  of  Ezra  E. 
Peck,  in  said  township.  There  were  no  land  entries 
in  this  township  previous  to  1836,  but  in  that  year 
of  the  great  stampede  for  the  wilds  of  Michigan, 
and  particularly  to  Eaton  County,  the  records  show 
eighty-six  entries  here,  doubtless  many  of  them  by 
speculators  who  never  settled  here. 

Sunfield  primarily  was,  is  and  ever  must  remain, 
an  agricultural  township.  It  had  not  the  water 
power,  the  beds  of  limestone,  the  ashery  and  salera- 
tus  manufactory  that  created  a  village  at  Bellevue 
nor  the  rapids  that  gave  water  power  and  village 
sites  to  Spicerville,  Eaton  Rapids  and  Delta.  It 
had  not  the  attractive  prairie  that  called  Charlotte, 
nor  the  burr-oak  plains  that  enabled  a  pioneer  to 
plant  sixty  acres  of  wheat  his  first  season.  The 
growth  of  Sunfield  was  slower.  The  settlers  here 
had  not  that  ceaseless  taste  for  frolic  and  horse-play 
that  characterized  Bellevue,  nor  the  religious  en- 
thusiasm of  Vermontville.  They  were  sturdy  axe 
men  who  understood  also  the  use  of  the  rifle  and 
shotgun.     Their   story  is   quickly  told.     Some   of 



tliem  devoted  much  time  to  hunting  but  they  have 
not  handed  down  to  us  the  marvelous  stories  of  bear 
and  wolf  hunts  and  this,  perhaps,  because  they  w^ere 
so  common  as  to  awaken  but  little  comment. 

The  first  settler  in  the  town  was  S.  S.  Hoyt  who 
settled  in  summer  of  1836.  His  daughter  Elizabeth 
was  the  first  child  of  white  parents,  but  she  was 
born  in  Vermontville,  her  mother  having  gone  there 
for  a  short  time  as  no  neighbors  were  nearer.  The 
first  male  children  born  here  w^ere  John  Nead,  Jr., 
and  John  Wells,  son  of  Wm.  A.  Wells.  Peter  Kinne 
was,  perhaps,  the  second  settler.  Both  he  and  his 
wife  died  within  two  years  thereafter. 

The  third  settler  was  Abram  Chatfield.  He  came 
in  by  way  of  Jackson,  Marshall,  Bellevue  and  Ver- 
montville, and  passed  but  one  shanty  between  these 
last  named  villages.  This  was  unoccupied  but 
known  as  the  half-way  house.  This  being  in  the 
north  part  of  the  county,  others  came  in  by  way  of 
Ionia.  A  land  office  was  now  established  there  and 
there  they  must  go  to  purchase  land. 

Edward  0.  Smith  came  to  Sunfield  in  May,  1838. 
His  wife  was  timid  and  very  greatly  frightened 
when  one  day  she  saw  260  Pottawattomie  Indians 
pass  by  on  their  way  to  reservations  beyond  the 
Mississippi.  Their  dress  was  different  from  that  of 
the  Ottawas  with  which  she  was  now  familiar.  The 
latter  wore  white  or  gray  blankets  but  this  passing 
army  wore  red  blankets  and  leggins  furnished  by 
the  British. 


Daniel  Barnum  and  his  four  sons,  Daniel,  Henry, 
Willis  and  Lewis,  and  his  son-in-law,  Avery  Pool, 
were  early  settlers  in  the  east  part  of  the  town. 

Thos.  Prindle  came  in  the  fall  of  1840,  but  said, 
even  at  that  time,  "It  took  all  the  town  to  raise  a 
shanty ;  they  couldn  't  put  up  a  decent  log  house  for 
their  lives." 

James  Young  moved  into  Sunfield  in  1841. 

Joseph  Cupp  and  several  of  his  friends  settled 
here  late  in  1837.  Mrs.  Cupp  was  very  much  afraid 
of  the  Indians  who,  she  said,  would  come  to  the 
house  when  she  was  alone,  wanting  food,  ''would 
give  the  Indian  war  whoop  and  scare  a  body  to 
death."  She  remembered  the  tales  she  had  heard 
of  early  Indian  massacres.  The  Indians  here  be- 
longed to  a  band  of  old  Chief  Swaba,  and  were  en- 
camped on  the  shore  of  the  lake  that  bears  his  name. 
On  one  occasion  they  had  obtained  liquor  and,  ac- 
cording to  custom,  all  were  drunk  including  Swaba, 
who  was  very  ill  tempered  when  in  liquor.  Daniel 
Hagar  visited  the  camp  at  this  unfortunate  time. 
Swaba  twisted  him  and  choked  him  in  a  frenzy  of 
delight  until  he  learned  who  was  his  victim  when  he 
was  immediately  released  but  considerably  bruised. 
After  frightening  the  wife  of  some  pioneer  nearly 
out  of  her  senses  he  would  go  away  and  relate  his 
exploit  in  great  glee,  saying,  "white  squaw  plenty 

The  squaws  made  baskets,  moccasins,  and  rush 
carpets  which  they  would  exchange  with  the  settlers 


for  provisions.  The  Indians  trapped  mucli  and 
every  spring  they  went  to  Shimnicon  to  plant  corn. 

There  was  no  milling  nearer  than  Bellevue,  twenty 
miles  away,  and  often  the  early  settlers  had  naught 
to  grind.  On  one  occasion  several  families  had  been 
entirely  out  of  provisions  for  two  days  and  children 
were  crying  with  hunger  when  James  Hager  re- 
turned from  Plymouth  with  a  load  of  provisions 
which  he  had  doubtless  purchased  from  a  sale  of 
furs.    He  was  much  given  to  hunting  and  trapping. 

May  7, 1842,  the  board  of  school  inspectors,  G.  W. 
Andrews,  E.  E.  Peck,  and  J.  R.  Wells,  organized  the 
first  school  district  and  Mrs.  George  Andrews  taught 
the  first  school  in  her  own  house.  A  small  log 
shanty  was  built  for  the  first  schoolhouse  and  was 
used  until  1851  when  a  framed  schoolhouse  was 

The  first  preaching  in  this  town  by  a  preacher  of 
any  denomination  was  by  Rev.  W.  U.  Benedict  who 
continued  to  preach  here  once  in  four  weeks  nearly 
as  long  as  he  lived.  Not  a  professor  of  religion  re- 
sided in  the  township  when  he  began  to  preach  here. 
The  Methodists  have  held  meetings  there  since 
about  1860. 

Records  show  that  the  resident  taxpayers  in  1844 
were  as  follows:  E.  0.  Smith,  Clesson  Smith,  S.  N. 
Billings,  0.  M.  Wells,  Joseph  Cupp,  J.  D.  Wickham, 
S.  Hager,  W.  A.  Wells,  Abram  Chatfield,  Thomas 
Prindle,  Avery  Pool,  Willis  Barnum,  Daniel  Bar- 
num,  James  Young,  C.  Vanhoutten,  S.  S.  Hoyt,  J.  R. 


Wells,  G.  W.  Andrews,  H.  W.  Green,  Lewis  Barnum, 
Sr.,  and  Jr.,  and  John  Nead. 

At  the  first  election  in  1842,  thirteen  votes  were 
cast  and  John  Nead  was  elected  supervisor.  His 
successors  have  been:  George  "W.  Andrews,  John 
Nead,  Zenas  Hutchinson,  David  Griffin,  Zenas 
Hutchinson,  G.  W.  Andrews  and  John  Dow,  from 
1851  to  1878. 

Mr.  Dow  is  the  Nestor  of  supervisors.  He  was 
first  supervisor  of  Chester  before  the  separation  of 
townships.  His  farm  lies  on  both  sides  of  the  road, 
the  east  township  line  of  Sunfield.  His  first  house 
was  in  Roxand  and  he  was  supervisor  of  that  town- 
ship from  1845  to  1850.  He  then  built  his  house 
across  the  road  in  Sunfield  and  at  once  became 
supervisor  there  as  seen  above. 

He  was  a  native  of  Bridgewater,  New  Jersey,  and 
came  here  in  1837,  purchasing  his  land  from  the 
government.  He  was  the  first  in  the  locality,  having 
no  neighbors  within  several  miles. 

I  chance  to  know  of  two  pioneers  of  Eaton  County 
who  made  spectacular  entrance  into  Michigan  a  few 
years  before  settling  here.  The  first  is  that  of  Linus 
Potter,  the  father  of  the  late  Senator  George  N. 
Potter  and  his  brothers.  He  reached  Detroit  when 
it  was  but  a  village  in  the  wilderness;  thence  he 
walked  thirty  miles  through  the  forest  to  establish  a 
future  home.  His  wife  walked  beside  him  while  he 
carried  their  two  little  children,  one  upon  his  back 
and  one  in  arms.     They  walked  as  far  as  seemed 


prudent  into  the  wood  where  he  left  them  sitting 
upon  a  log  while  he  returned  to  take  up  the  large 
bundle  containing  all  their  earthly  goods.  This  he 
carried  as  far  as  the  family  or  beyond,  then  he 
returned  for  them.  Thus  he  walked  the  whole  thirty 
miles  three  times  over  bearing  his  alternate  burdens. 
He  later  came  to  Eaton  County  cutting  his  road 
through  miles  of  unbroken  forest  and  settling  where 
Potterville  now  is.  His  story  belongs  in  the  history 
of  Benton  where  it  is  more  fully  told. 

The  other  man  of  unusual  experience  was  Peter 
M.  Kent,  one  of  the  earliest  pioneers  of  Oneida  and 
later  a  most  prominent  citizen  of  Portland  and  then 
of  Grand  Ledge.  His  story  belongs  to  Oneida,  but 
that  chapter  is  already  prolix  while  this  is  brief; 
furthermore  his  oldest  son  later  became  a  pioneer  of 
Sunfield  and  here  the  grandsons  were  reared.  This 
furnishes  excuse,  if  not  good  reason,  for  giving  his 
story  here.  Late  in  life  he  wrote  an  extended  auto- 
biography, remarkable  alike  in  his  unusual  adven- 
tures and  his  marvelous  memory  in  recalling  them. 
From  this  "sketch,"  as  he  termed  it,  I  am  permitted 
to  cull  the  foUoAving  facts. 

He  was  born  in  Pennsylvania  in  1810,  of  Dutch 
parentage  but  very  poor.  At  fifteen  years  of  age  he 
went  for  himself,  working  for  a  farmer  at  $7.00  a 
month  for  six  months,  losing  but  two  days  and  sav- 
ing his  earnings.  Later  he  worked  for  $10.00  a 
month  and  incidentally  picked  up  the  carpenter's 
trade.    Then  he  worked  three  years  at  nominal  wage 


and  learned  the  millwright's  trade.  When  twenty- 
one  years  old  he  had  bought  twenty-four  acres  of 
land  and  upon  it  had  established  his  parents  and 
their  small  children  of  whom  he  was  thenceforth  the 
main  support. 

He  next  started  with  a  companion  of  like  aspira- 
tions to  traverse,  on  foot,  the  whole  of  western  New 
York  seeking  desirable  location  for  future  life.  The 
details  are  too  prolix  for  these  pages  although  very 
interesting.  He  finally  bought  eighty  acres  of  land 
at  $3.00  an  acre.  Here  he  settled  his  parents  who 
made  some  improvements  when  he  sold  the  land  for 
$1,280,  or  $16.00  an  acre.  This  was  a  princely  sum 
to  start  pioneer  life  in  Michigan.  He  met,  in  New 
York  State,  James  and  Almeron  Newman,  who  told 
him  they  had  purchased  a  mill  site  at  the  mouth  of 
the  Lookinggiass  River,  and  they  engaged  him  to 
construct  their  mills.  They  took  his  trunk  and  tool- 
chest,  to  ship  with  their  goods  by  water,  up  the  lakes 
and  then  the  Grand  Eiver,  while  Kent  followed  on 
foot.  He  took  boat  from  Cleveland  to  Toledo  and 
thence  on  foot  again. 

His  description  of  Michigan  cities  as  he  found 
them  in  1836  is  most  interesting.  He  passed 
''through  where  Hudson  now  is"  and  reached 
Adrian  "which  then  consisted  of  a  tavern  and  one 
store."  He  then  walked  to  Jonesville,  "a  little 
huddle",  and  thence  to  Coldwater  "which  was  but 
a  few  houses  about  a  mile  from  where  the  beautiful 
city  of  that  name  now  is."    Here  he  was  offered 


two  hundred  forty  acres,  as  choice  looking  land  as  he 
ever  saw,  for  $1,000.  He  offered  $950  but  failed  to 
get  it.     It  is  now  within  the  city  corporation. 

From  there  he  walked  to  Marshall, ' '  one  store  and 
a  tavern."  Here  he  had  a  supper  so  wretched  that 
the  landlord  took  no  pay  (after  controversy)  and 
offered  a  drink  if  he  would  say  nothing. 

Here  he  enquired  the  way  to  the  mouth  of  the 
Lookinggiass.  (Portland  had  as  yet  no  name.) 
Some  advised  that  he  go  to  White  Pigeon  thence 
via.  Yankee  Springs  to  Grand  Eapids  and  up  the 
river.  Others  said  no,  go  to  Bellevue  and  take  the 
Clinton  trail  to  Grand  Eapids.  Kent  could  believe 
neither  of  them.  He  knew  the  Newmans  had  gone 
through  with  two  yoke  of  oxen  and  he  did  not  think 
they  had  gone  such  a  roundabout  way.  Another 
told  him  to  return  to  Jackson  and  take  the  old  Indian 
trail,  fifty  miles  through  the  forest  to  Scotts  Tavern 
on  the  Lookinggiass.  This  he  did  and  found  Jack- 
son, * '  a  small  tavern,  a  store  and  two  groceries, ' '  but 
he  had  much  difficulty  in  learning  of  any  trail 
through  the  north  woods.  One  man  knew  of  it — had 
been  over  it  and  said  it  ended  just  behind  the  tavern. 
He  was  told  to  follow  it  to  "Tanner's  who  would 
tell  him  all  about  it."  Here  he  met  a  young  man 
who  thought  he  wanted  to  go  through  with  him  to 
Newman's,  to  get  a  steady  job  of  work,  to  earn  forty 
acres  of  land.  It  was  now  forty  miles  without  a 
house  or  guide  post,  save  the  well  worn  Indian 
trail,  deeped  by  centuries  of  travel.    They  followed 


but  a  few  miles  when  the  young  man,  disheartened, 
turned  back.  Kent  was  in  no  sense  a  woodsman 
and  was  too  timid  to  venture  alone.  He  went  back 
to  Davis  and  then  hired  a  large  powerful  man  named 
Turner  to  go  through  with  him  for  "twenty  shill- 
ings." Mrs.  Davis  sold  them  bread  and  a  chunk  of 
butter  for  their  dinner  as  by  sharp  travel  they  could 
make  it  in  a  day.  But  Turner  proved  very  hea\'7 
of  foot.  They  slept  in  the  woods  when  little  more 
than  half  through,  ie.,  Turner  slept,  but  mosquitoes 
kept  Kent  awake  until  dawn  at  3:00  when  they 
started  on. 

Their  instructions  were  to  follow  the  great  trail 
to  its  end  at  the  Cedar  River  near  where  Okemos 
now  is  and  where  there  was  then  a  deserted  Indian 
village.  Then  follow  the  river  down  to  a  crossing 
and  up  the  further  bank  to  the  Indian  burying 
ground;  then  with  their  compass,  steer  directly 
north  until  they  intercepted  another  trail  leading  to 
the  Lookingglass.  At  the  Cedar  River,  Turner 
balked  and  nearly  fought  to  return  but  finally  re- 
luctantly followed  on  very  slowly.  It  was  a  hot  day 
and  the  only  water  they  found  was  a  pond  in  which 
they  brushed  the  wigglers  away  and  dipping  their 
bread  therein,  ate  it  to  quench  thirst.  Toward  night, 
as  a  rain  storm  approached,  they  came  to  the  Look- 
ingglass and  an  Indian  ferried  them  across. 

''He  pointed  us  the  way  to  Scotts  which  was  not 
very  far  down  the  river.  Here  we  stayed  over 
night  with  thirty  others,  land  lookers,  in  his  little 


block  tavern.  Here  we  found  two  men  freighting 
down  the  river  to  Lyons.  Five  of  us  engaged 
passage  with  them  to  the  mouth  of  the  Lookingglass 
at  fifty  cents  each.  We  constructed  a  rude  raft  to 
help  support  the  frail  boat.  In  this  crazy  contrap- 
tion with  much  bailing  we  succeeded  in  reaching 
very  near  the  mouth  at  Portland,  but  here  the  raft 
parted,  the  boat  upset.  The  passengers,  badly 
scared,  shouted  murder,  but  finally,  clinging  to  wil- 
lows by  the  shore,  all  lives  were  saved  but  the  freight 
was  lost."  Their  lusty  calls  brought  the  Newmans 
to  their  rescue.  They  were  housed  and  dried  and 
this  perilous  journey  ended.  Thus  Peter  Kent  had 
walked  the  entire  distance  from  Philadelphia  to 
Grand  Eapids  except  the  space  between  Buffalo  and 
Detroit.    Much  of  this  he  walked  over  several  times. 

Quoting  Kent: 

*'Here  my  Michigan  labor  should  begin  but  my 
tool  chest  shipped  by  water  had  not  arrived.  No 
work  could  be  done  without  tools.  We  waited,  then 
heard  Newman's  goods  had  been  seen  on  the  dock  in 
Chicago.  We  asked  a  man  going  there  to  see  that 
they  were  reshipped  to  Grand  Rapids  at  once.  Work 
must  be  begun  soon  or  not  at  all  that  season.  We 
went  to  Grand  Rapids  to  search  for  the  goods  and 
there  found  my  tool  chest  which  we  reshipped  to 
Lyons.  We  then  returned  on  foot  to  Lyons,  opened 
the  chest  and  taking  broad-axe,  square  and  chalk- 
line  walked  to  Portland  and  began  work  on  the  mill 
July  20,  1836,  and  it  was  raised  on  September  1st." 


Almeron  Newman  and  Kent  then  went  to  Detroit 
to  select  fixtures  for  a  grist  mill,  of  small  run  of 
stone,  to  add  to  the  sawmill.  Mr.  Kent  went  on  to 
York  State  on  business  but  returned  early  in  October 
to  Detroit  and  at  Farmington  he  met  John  and 
Greorge  Strange  and  began  an  acquaintance  which 
continued  while  they  lived.  They  walked  together 
from  Farmington  to  Scott's  and  beyond  to  S.  B. 
Groger's  in  Eagle.  They  waded  sloughs,  twenty 
rods  across  and  waist  deep  in  water  covered  with  a 
thin  crust  of  ice.  They  became  lost  in  the  woods 
and  sat  upon  the  roots  of  trees  all  night. 

Groger  was  a  professional  land  looker.  He  told 
them  the  best  land  in  Michigan  was  just  south  across 
the  river  in  Eaton  County.  And  the  next  day  he 
piloted  a  party  of  half  a  dozen  over  there,  crossing 
at  the  "old  ford"  a  mile  below  the  ledges.  Much 
land  had  been  taken  by  speculators  but  he  knew  of  a 
few  choice  tracts  still  open.  He  led  them  a  zigzag 
course,  following  blazed  trees  of  the  government 
survey.  He  showed  them  sections  7  and  18,  then 
went  east  to  the  center  line  and  said  if  any  would 
return  that  night  it  was  time  to  start.  They  divided 
and  some  returned  but  my  father,  my  uncle  George 
Strange  and  Kent  said  they  would  look  further.  At 
the  quarter  post  on  the  west  side  of  section  34,  night 
overtook  them.  Without  blankets  they  could  scarce- 
ly lie  down  in  the  light  snow.  They  sat  upon  the 
roots  of  trees,  told  stories  or  walked  about  to  keep 
warm.     Speculators  had  been  before  them  but  of 


those  who  became  settlers  it  is  believed  these  were 
the  first  who  ever  set  foot  in  Oneida.  There  was 
not  a  habitation  nor  roadway  within  ten  miles  of  the 
land  they  selected. 

The  next  morning  (early  in  October,  1836)  they 
went  around  section  34  and  then  determined  their 
choice.  Uncle  George  took  the  northwest  quarter  of 
section  7  and  w^ith  my  father  they  bought  the  south 
one-half  of  section  18  and  the  whole  of  section  34. 
Most  of  this  section  is  still  owned  by  the  third  gen- 
erations of  Stranges  being  one  of  the  very  few 
tracts  still  in  the  family  of  the  first  purchaser. 

Mr.  Kent  chose  the  one-half  of  section  27  and 
one-half  of  28  thus  giving  him  a  square  mile.  They 
then  returned  to  the  'old  ford'  reaching  there  about 
11  A.  M.,  after  w^ading  a  slough  waist  deep  and 
thinly  encrusted  with  ice.  Here  they  found  Mr. 
Groger's  son  w^ho  met  them  with  fresh  biscuits,  and 
in  a  canoe  ferried  them  over.  They  started  at  once 
for  the  U.  S.  land  office  at  Ionia  to  secure  their 
land.  They  learned  at  Portland  that  the  office  was 
closed  for  a  time.  They  all  went  to  work  for  New^- 
man  until  the  office  opened  and  soon  after  returned. 
Mr.  Kent  worked  most  of  the  w^inter  on  Newman's 
mill  and  at  the  same  time  hired  a  man  to  chop  fifty 
acres  on  the  northeast  corner  of  his  land  in  Oneida. 
The  next  summer  he  went  east  and  brought  his 
father's  family  to  Portland  but  in  March,  1838,  he 
placed  them  in  a  log  house  built  upon  this  land. 
This  he  called  home  but  he  continued  to  spend  much 


time  building  mills,  one  at  Stony  Creek,  ten  miles 
below  Portland,  another  at  Lloyd's,  another  in 
Eagle  and  one  at  Wacousta.  He  geared  a  mill  for 
Erastus  IngersoU  in  Delta  and  then  helped  Newman 
to  build  a  modern  large  grist  mill  and  Kent  bought 
a  half  interest  in  it  and  ran  it  twelve  years  when 
again  he  removed  to  his  farm  in  Oneida.  In  1852, 
after  being  on  the  farm  two  years  he,  with  his 
brother  Francis,  and  Abram  Hixson  bought  out  the 
Grand  Ledge  milling  properties  but  Peter  remained 
upon  his  farm  until  1861  when,  having  built  a  large 
house  in  Grand  Ledge,  he  removed  his  family  there, 
and  spent  the  remainder  of  a  serene  old  age,  a  fore- 
most citizen,  respected  and  esteemed  by  all. 


Following  the  townships  in  their  order  of  settle- 
ment we  again  skip  across  the  county  from  the 
extreme  northwest  to  extreme  northeast  corner, 

The  settlement  of  this  township  presents  a  more 
romantic  history  than  any  other.  A  greater  variety 
of  pioneer  experiences,  perhaps  more  privations 
and  hardships,  more  wanderings  in  the  wilderness, 
more  of  loneliness  and  again  more  dense  crowding 
into  scarcely  habitable  homes. 

Bellevue  had  one  entrance  pathway  followed  by 
all,  and  this  mainly  through  *'oak  openings"  where 
a  first  trail  was  easily  formed.  Vermontville,  with 
its  thrilling  experiences,  was  settled  by  a  colony 
where  many  mutual  friends  came  closely  in  together. 
Delta  was  entered  by  four  different  routes,  each 
through  dense  woods  and  interminable  swamps ;  the 
first  incomer  over  each  cutting  a  path  from  ten  to 
forty  miles  which  was  so  obscured  before  others  fol- 
lowed it  that  it  was  difficult  or  impossible  to  trace, 
and  these  followers  were  often  lost  over  night  and 
sometimes  for  several  days. 

Thirty-six  purchases  of  government  land  are  re- 
corded in  1836  (doubtless  most  of  them  by  specu- 
lators who  never  settled  here)  and  only  one  pur- 
chase   preceding  this  and  that  by  the  first  settler, 



Erastus  Ingersoll,  in  1835.  He  purchased  eight 
hundred  acres  lying  upon  both  sides  of  Grand  River, 
and  this  with  most  lofty  expectations  and  aspira- 
tions. He  was  the  father  of  six  sons,  all  well  known 
afterwards  throughout  this  and  adjoining  counties. 
The  oldest  son,  Erastus  S.  Ingersoll,  perhaps  the 
best  known  of  them  all,  was  elected  the  first  town- 
ship supervisor,  was  for  very  many  years  Sunday 
school  superintendent  and  later  State  agent  or 
superintendent  of  Sunday  schools.  He  wrote  an 
extended  account  of  the  early  settlement  of  this 
township  from  which  I  make  many  extracts  as 
follows : 

'*In  the  spring  of  1836,  Mr.  Ingersoll  employed 
Anthony  Niles  and  Heman  Thomas,  residing  in 
Eagle,  to  build  a  log  cabin  on  his  newly  purchased 
lands  and  upon  the  north  side  of  the  river.  In  the 
month  of  August  or  September,  of  this  year,  Mr. 
Ingersoll,  in  company  with  Clinton  Burnet  (later  of 
Windsor,  Eaton  County)  and  a  Mr.  Avery,  went 
onto  this  land  with  his  family,  doubtless  the  first 
settler  in  this  quarter  of  the  county.  They  left 
Farmington,  Oakland  County,  following  the  Grand 
River  turnpike  to  Howell,  thence  he  turned  north- 
ward to  the  Looking-glass  River  which  they  fol- 
lowed to  the  present  site  of  DeWitt.  From  this 
point  he  cut  his  way  southwesterly,  without  other 
guide  than  his  pocket  compass,  to  his  log  cabin  al- 
ready erected,  a  distance  of  ten  or  more  miles.  The 
labor  and  trial  of  such  a  task  is  inconceivable  at  the 


present  day.  His  next  task  was  to  dam  the  Grand 
River  and  begin  the  task  of  building  a  sawmill.  This 
mill  was  only  partially  finished  when  on  the  last 
day  of  December,  1836,  the  first  board  was  sawed 
but  the  'gigging  back'  was  only  accomplished  by 
hand  with  the  aid  of  handspikes.  Addison  Hayden 
was  head  mechanic  in  building  the  mill  but  the 
freshet  of  the  following  spring  swept  away  the  frail 
dam. ' ' 

The  next  settlers  after  Mr.  Ingersoll  were  a  Mr. 
Lewis  and  his  son-in-law^,  Ezra  Billings.  They  came 
in  from  the  south  cutting  their  road  from  Eaton 
Rapids,  some  twenty  miles,  and  enduring  such  hard- 
ships by  the  way  that  Mrs.  Lewis  died  soon  after 
their  arrival.  This  was  before  the  sa"WTnill  had 
cut  its  first  board  and  according  to  pioneer  custom 
the  wagon-box  in  which  she  had  arrived,  was  cut  up 
to  make  a  coffin  in  which  she  was  buried.  Thus  an- 
other succumbed  to  the  hardships  unendurable  save 
by  the  strongest. 

Erastus  S.  Ingersoll,  the  writer  of  these  notes, 
was  the  next  to  arrive  February  27,  1837.  He  came 
with  his  family  from  Farmington  via.  Shiawassee 
and  DeWitt  with  sleigh  and  horses.  ' '  Supplies  were 
transported  by  ox-team  from  Detroit.  Provisions 
ruled  very  high,  pork  being  $40  and  flour  $14  a  bar- 
rel. We  were  without  vegetables  until  the  follow- 
ing spring.  A  Mr.  Butterfield  came  down  the  river 
in  the  early  spring  with  a  boat  laden  with  much 
needed   potatoes.     My   father   purchased   both   the 


cargo  and  the  vessel,  paying  $40  for  the  boat  and 
$2  a  bushel  for  potatoes,  seventy  bushels  in  all. 

''About  the  first  of  June,  1837,  my  father  returned 
with  his  brother,  the  Rev.  E.  P.  Ingersoll  and  Dr. 
Jennings  of  Oberlin  and  others  from  Ohio  and  Mass- 
achusetts. They  came  through  from  Howell  bring- 
ing with  them  two  yoke  of  oxen  and  four  cows. 
They  cut  their  own  roads  through  the  dense  forest 
this  entire  forty  miles,  built  bridges,  dug  down 
hillsides,  removed  obstructions  and  encountered 
many  trying  delays.  On  Saturday  night  they  en- 
camped on  the  banks  of  Cedar  River  and  observed 
the  Sabbath  as  a  day  of  rest  and  religious  worship. 
On  our  arrival  Mr.  Ingersoll's  family  was  increased 
to  eighteen  members. 

''Two  weeks  later  Thomas  Chadwick  arrived  ac- 
companied by  other  Ingersolls  with  two  yoke  of  oxen 
and  a  span  of  horses,  having  followed  the  new  trail 
from  Howell.  Imagine  the  difficulties  of  construct- 
ing this  road  when  you  read  the  details  of  this  next 
trip  over  it.  On  the  first  day  they  came  to  an  open 
marsh  and  testing  the  strength  of  its  turf  thought 
it  sufficient  to  venture  upon  with  the  horse  team. 
l¥hen  half  way  over  the  horses  broke  through  and 
mired.  When  released  from  the  wagon  they  man- 
aged to  get  across.  After  selecting  a  new  path  the 
oxen  were  tried  with  the  same  result.  Both  wagons 
were  now  stranded  or  mired  to  their  axles  in  the 
mud.  Mrs.  Chadwick,  a  very  stout  old  lady,  was 
left  alone  in  one  wag-on  and  now  shouting  for  assist- 


ance.  Her  stalwart  son  managed  after  a  time  to 
carry  her  safe  to  land  upon  liis  back.  They  next 
cut  several  long  poles  and  connected  them  with 
ropes  and  chains  and  attached  them  to  a  wagon 
tongTie.  The  teams  now  having  firm  footing  brought 
the  wagons,  one  at  a  time,  safely  to  the  shore,  after 
they  had  lightened  the  wagons  by  carrying  upon 
their  backs  much  of  the  loads.  The  next  day  one  of 
their  horses  gave  out  and  much  of  the  lading  was 
left  in  the  forest.  We  then  sent  one  of  our  number 
on  ahead  to  return  with  provisions.  He  brought 
back  pork  and  beans.  With  fresh  heart  we  went 
forward  and  reached  Delta  Mills  the  third  day  from 
Howell.  Wondrous  was  the  capacity  of  a  small  log 
house  in  those  pioneer  days.  This  one  now  shel- 
tered twenty-six  persons  besides  occasional  land 
lookers  who  perforce  halted  here. 

"About  the  20th  of  March  Mr.  Compton  and  Mr. 
Cronkite,  future  settlers  in  Eagle,  arrived  with 
their  families  having  made  the  trip  from  Eaton  Rap- 
ids upon  the  ice.  The  ice  was  now  melting  rapidly 
and  was  free  from  our  shore.  They  shouted  lustily 
for  assistance  and  called  us  from  our  supper  table. 
We  managed  with  poles  to  construct  a  bridge  to  the 
ice  and  they  were  landed  safely. 

''A  few  days  later  than  this,  in  April,  we  heard  a 
loud  call  early  in  the  morning  from  the  south  side 
of  the  river.  A  boat  was  sent  across  and  soon  re- 
turned with  four  young  men  who  had  been  out  all 
night  without  food,  fuel,  fire  or  covering,  through- 


out  a  violent  storm  and  depth  of  snow.  So  thor- 
oughly drenched  were  they  that  water  was  freely 
wrung  from  their  every  garment. 

''These  calls  were  frequent  but  each  awakened 
new  and  deeper  interest.  A  few  mornings  later  a 
loud  halloo  was  heard  at  our  very  door.  Rushing 
out  and  surrounding  a  lad  on  horse  back  too  closely, 
as  he  thought,  he  drew  a  pistol  and  shouted,  'Stand 
back!  I  am  in  Uncle  Sam's  employ.'  And  so  it 
proved.  A  tiny  mail  bag  was  strapped  to  the  rear 
of  his  saddle.  We  learned  from  him  that  a  mail 
route  was  established  from  Jacksonburg  (afterward 
the  city  of  Jackson)  to  Ionia.  Roads  proving  im- 
passable the  route  was  soon  discontinued. ' ' 

Another  party  coming  in  from  Eaton  Rapids 
were  lost  in  the  "Old  Maid's  Swamp"  for  several 
days  under  really  terrifying  conditions. 

Some  of  the  founders  of  Delta  were  as  religiously 
zealous  and  as  intellectually  asjDiring  as  the  found- 
ers of  Vermontville  but  less  successful  in  their  enter- 
prise. Erastus  Ingersoll  bought  this  large  tract  of 
land  and  his  brother,  Rev.  E.  P.  Ingersoll,  came  on 
with  the  purpose  of  founding  here  a  college  planned 
after  the  model  of  Oberlin.  In  fact  the  Rev.  J.  J. 
Shipherd,  the  founder  of  Oberlin  and  who  after- 
ward founded  Olivet,  came  with  these  two  brothers 
in  1835,  and  assisted  in  selecting  the  land.  The  two 
reverends  returned  to  New  England  to  obtain  sub- 
scriptions with  very  gratifying  results — so  much 
so   that   preparations   were  made   and  foundation 


laid  for  a  large  college  building.  The  famed  panic 
of  1837- '38  brought  disaster  to  this  with  many  an- 
other laudable  enterprise.  Subscriptions  could  not 
be  collected.  The  college  was  blighted  and  their 
hopes  nearly  blasted  but  Rev.  E.  P.  Ingersoll  did 
return  here  and  taught  an  advanced  school  for  a 
time  but,  despairing  of  success,  ''abandoned  the 
Avoods  of  Delta  for  some  more  congenial  field." 

Mr.  E.  S.  Ingersoll  closes  his  long  essay  with 
' '  fourteen  points ' ' : 

The  first  settler,  Erastus  Ingersoll.  The  first 
dwelling,  his  log  cabin. 

The  first  improvements,  his   dam   and   sawmill. 

The  first  hotel,  by  E.  S.  Ingersoll. 

The  first  postmaster,  E.  S.  Ingersoll. 

The  first  election,  in  fall  of  1838. 

The  first  minister  of  the  gospel,  Rev.  E.  P.  Inger- 

The  first  child  born  (a  girl),  1838. 

The  first  church  organized  in  1851.  The  first  per- 
manent pastor,  Rev.  Wm.  P.  Esler. 

The  first  schoolhouse,  built  in  1839.  The  first 
schoolteacher,  Lydia  Ingersoll. 

The  first  public  school  teacher,  Miss  Sally  Chad- 

During  the  summer  of  1837,  a  grist  mill,  a  framed 
barn,  and  two  framed  houses  were  built,  the  latter 
belonging  to  E.  S.  Ingersoll  and  to  A.  Hayden. 

The  first  marriage  occurred  in  1838,  Addison  Hay- 
den and  Mary  Chadwick.     An  interesting  incident 


is  connected  with  this  marriage.  A  justice  of  the 
peace  was  sent  for  to  perform  the  ceremony.  His 
wife  said  he  could  not  go  as  he  had  no  fit  clothes. 
His  sons  came  to  his  relief.  One  furnished  a  coat, 
another  a  vest,  still  another  the  pants,  but  the  fin- 
ishing touch  was  given  when  another,  the  family 
dude,  furnished  a  plug  hat.  This  was  not  the  last 
nor  greatest  of  their  perplexities.  It  chanced  that 
the  justice  was  not  a  praying  man  and  here  was  an 
indispensible  part  of  the  ceremony  unprovided  for. 
Mr.  E.  S.  Ingersoll  was  engaged  to  supply  this  part 
of  the  ceremony  so  the  matrimonial  knot  was  duly 
tied  and  ' '  they  lived  happily  ever  after. ' ' 

On  June  11,  1841,  a  village  plat  was  laid  out  ex- 
tending from  the  river  to  the  turnpike.  This  was 
given  the  aspiring  name  of  Grand  River  City  but 
the  name  failed  of  general  adoption.  It  remained 
"Delta  Mills"  for  many  years.  In  a  very  early 
day  Whitney  Jones  established  a  store  here  after 
purchasing  a  considerable  portion  of  the  "plat." 
Since  he  became  supervisor  here  and  a  prominent 
man  in  the  county  and  later  well  known  throughout 
the  State  it  is  perhaps  well  to  pause  here  and  recite 
something  of  his  varied  early  career.  In  the  sum- 
mer of  1839,  he  came  to  Detroit  from  New  York 
State  with  a  stock  of  goods  which  he  took  in  trade 
at  Jamestown.  In  August,  1839,  he  took  his  stock 
of  goods  to  Marshall,  but  in  March,  1842,  he  trans- 
ported his  stock  to  Eaton  Rapids.  Here  he  built 
two  boats  measuring  twelve  by  sixteen  feet  and 


floated  his  goods  to  Delta  Mills  where  he  opened 
the  first  store.  His  second  stock  was  boated  all  the 
way  from  Jackson.  He  remained  here  until  1845, 
when  he  removed  to  Detroit  but  after  the  capital 
was  located  in  Lansing,  1847,  he  came  to  that  place 
where  he  remained. 

The  first  settler  on  the  south  side  of  the  river 
was  Genet  Brown  who  came  via  Jacksonburg  (now 
Jackson)  and  Eaton  Rapids,  stopping  in  Windsor  at 
the  shanties  of  Mr.  Towslee  and  John  D.  Skinner. 
Rev.  E.  P.  Ingersoll  was  an  old  acquaintance  of  Mr. 
Brown  and  at  his  house  he  made  headquarters  while 
exploring  and  building  a  shanty.  Brown  had  al- 
ways worked  in  a  factory  and  had  little  knowledge 
of  farming  or  of  forests.  He  had  many  amusing 
and  trying  experiences.  He  finally  found  the  ''half 
burned  log  heap"  left  by  the  surveyors  ten  years 
before  at  the  exact  center  of  the  township  and  a 
half  mile  beyond  his  ow^n  land.  Here  he  laid  the 
foundation  of  a  ten  by  fourteen  cabin.  Then  with 
the  aid  of  six  men  who  came  from  the  ' '  Mills ' '  with 
a  yoke  of  oxen,  a  sled,  and  five  slabs,  the  cabin  was 
raised  and  covered  with  basswood  troughs  and  the 
slabs,  and  so  made  habitable ;  but  what  a  change  for 
Brown,  from  a  city  to  the  loneliness  of  this  vast  wild- 
erness with  only  wild  men  and  wild  animals  to 
break  the  monotony  of  unaccustomed  toil. 

On  the  day  of  the  raising  the  highway  commis- 
sioner laid  the  first  roadway  in  the  township  from 
the  Mills  to  Brown's  shanty.    Here  after  a  time  he 


was  joined  by  John  Reed  who  came  through  from 
Eaton  Rapids  with  an  ox  team  and  many  trying  ex- 
periences. By  way  of  a  private  sleeping  room,  a 
box  was  emptied  and  placed  in  the  cabin  for  his  per- 
sonal use.  Brown  had  many  experiences  in  his  wild- 
wood  home  but  not  nearly  so  frightful  as  he  imag- 
ined. Chased  home  by  a  hungry  pack  of  wolves,  he 
gave  his  wife  a  terrible  fright  by  falling  full  length 
upon  the  floor.  Upon  examining  the  tracks  the  next 
morning  he  felt  assured  that  ''forty  such  Bro^vns 
as  I  could  not  have  made  a  meal  for  such  an  awful 
pack. ' ' 

Thomas  Parsons  was  an  early  settler  in  the  south- 
east corner  of  the  township.  He  had  a  son,  not  of 
the  brightest.  When  gathering  sap  with  two  buckets 
he  became  lost  and  it  was  said  he  traveled  forty 
miles  carrying  those  buckets  slung  to  a  yoke  upon 
his  shoulders  and  searching  for  his  home. 

Allowing  for  reasonable  exaggeration  the  pion- 
eers of  Delta  certainly  left  some  interesting  stories. 

Delta  had  been  a  part  of  Oneida  until  February 
16,  1842,  when  by  act  of  legislature  it  was  created 
into  a  separate  township  and  ' '  the  first  election  shall 
be  at  the  schoolhouse  near  Ingersoll's  mill."  The 
election  resulted  as  follows:  For  Supervisor,  E.  S. 
Ingersoll;  Clerk,  Alexander  Ingersoll;  Treasurer, 
0.  B.  Ingersoll ;  Justices,  S.  Wm.  Lee,  Samuel  Nixon, 
Remember  Baker. 

Supervisors  later  were:  Whitney  Jones,   S.   B. 


Dayton,  A.  Hayden,  J.  T.  Dorrel,  Chas.  Burr, 
Chamicey  Goodrich,  Charles  Bull. 

Among  early  experiences  one  man  relates  that  his 
wife  went  at  one  time  nineteen  days  without  seeing 
a  human  being  except  two  squaws.  Again  at  one 
time  he  broke  his  axe  and  to  obtain  another  he  had 
to  walk  twenty  miles  and  for  it  he  paid  three  pairs 
of  socks  which  his  wife  had  knitted  in  the  winter 

The  following  is  the  list  of  resident  taxpayers 
in  1844:  A.  Baker,  R.  Baker,  Thos.  Robbins,  Wm. 
Lee,  E.  S.  Ingersoll,  Alex.  Ingersoll,  D.  S.  Ingersoll, 
S.  B.  Dayton,  Whitney  Jones,  P.  Phillips,  D.  Phil- 
lips, Emerson  Frost,  W.  J.  Halsey,  John  Reed,  0. 
Fairbanks,  D.  R.  Carpenter,  Thomas  Parsons,  Ed. 
Moore,  John  Nixon,  Samuel  Nixon,  N.  Carrier,  A. 
H.  Hayden,  Daniel  Chadwick,  Ansel  Mascho,  Seers 
Mascho,  Charles  Mascho. 

I  am  told  that  Rev.  W.  H.  Carpenter  was  the  first 
male  child  born  in  Delta. 

"When  riding  past  the  broad  acres,  the  fertile 
fields,  the  immense  barns,  the  elegant  homes  of  to- 
day it  is  difficult  to  ijnagine  the  privations  of  the 
pioneers  upon  these  same  acres  eighty  years  ago. 


Eaton  County  with  two  others  was  at  a  very  early 
day  included  in  the  Township  of  Greene.  Later 
the  whole  of  Eaton  County  was  included  in  the 
Township  of  Bellevue.  Next  the  southeast  quarter 
of  the  county  was  organized  into  the  Township  of 
Eaton  but  by  act  of  legislature  approved  February 
16,  1842,  the  present  Township  of  Eaton  Rapids 
was  organized  and  ''the  first  township  meeting  shall 
be  held  at  the  house  of  H.  Hamlin. ' ' 

The  government  records  show  seven  purchases 
of  land  within  this  township  in  1835,  and  forty-six 
in  1836.  Few  of  these  however  became  actual  set- 
tlers here.  Johnson  Montgomery  is  credited  with 
settling  here  in  September,  1836,  as  he  came  at  that 
time  and  began  improvements  upon  his  land  which 
continued  unremittingly,  but  for  several  months  he 
made  his  home  with  his  brother  John  (the  first 
settler  in  Hamlin)  who  lived  just  across  the  road 
from  his  land;  thus  he  was  not  legally  a  resident 
i^pon  his  land. 

The  first  actual  resident  within  the  limits  of  the 
present  township  w^as  John  E.  Clark,  locating  upon 
section  20  on  February  11,  1837.  From  a  brief 
autobiography  of  Johnson  Montgomery,  now  in  my 
possession,  I  learn  that  he  was  of  Scotch-Irish 
descent  and  that  his  parents  came  to  this  country 
the  year  before  he  was  born,  1806,  and  when  his 



brother  John  was  but  one  year  old.  He  lived  with 
his  parents  at  different  places  in  New  York  until 
twenty-one  years  old,  married  when  twenty-three, 
and  before  1836,  when  they  started  for  Michigan, 
three  children  were  born  to  them.  Quoting  directly 
from  his  own  writing: 

*'We  started  with  two  yoke  of  oxen  bringing 
our  family  and  all  our  household  goods  in  one 
wagon.  At  Buffalo  we  went  on  board  of  steamer  to 
Detroit.  But  after  leaving  that  place  it  was  almost 
impossible  to  proceed  through  the  interminable  mud. 
In  about  five  days  we  arrived  at  Dexter  having  en- 
countered many  difficulties.  Here  we  were  joined 
by  my  brother  Robert.  After  leaving  Dexter  we 
found  it  very  difficult  to  proceed,  fording  streams 
and  wading  mire-holes.  While  fording  Portage 
River  the  wagon  became  fastened  in  the  mire. 
Brother  Robert  went  two  miles  to  get  a  team  to  help 
draw  the  wagon  out  of  the  mire.  While  he  was 
gone  I  waded  to  my  waist  in  mud  and  water  and 
carried  my  wife  and  children  and  some  of  our  goods 
to  dry  land.  When  the  team  arrived  we  fastened 
one  end  of  a  long  pole  to  the  wagon  tongue  and 
hauled  it  out  of  the  mire.  As  we  proceeded  west  we 
found  it  still  more  difficult  to  proceed.  We  found 
it  would  be  necessary  to  camp  out  one  night.  We 
accordingly  procured  a  sufficient  quantity  of  pro- 
visions for  such  an  event  but  with  no  shelter  save 
the  canopy  of  heaven. 

''We  were  obliged  to  turn  the  cattle  loose  at  night 

Eatcon  rapids  township.  ©3 

to  feed,  and  great  was  our  disappointment  in  the 
morning  to  find  our  oxen  were  missing.  Following 
their  tracks  I  immediately  started  to  find  tliem, 
which  I  did  after  traveling  as  fast  as  possible  four- 
teen miles.  Two  hours  before  sunset  I  returned 
with  them  to  the  wagon.  Brother  John  had  heard 
we  were  coming,  and  not  far  away,  and  during  my 
search  for  the  cattle  he  had  been  to  the  camping 
place  and  had  very  kindly  taken  my  family  and  a 
portion  of  my  goods  and  carried  them  to  his  house. 
I  arrived  there  about  eleven  o  'clock  the  same  night. 
We  soon  moved  into  a  shanty  just  vacated  by  a  Mr. 
Toles  where  we  were  obliged  to  hang  up  blankets 
instead  of  doors  and  in  place  of  window  glass  we 
used  greased  paper  to  let  in  a  little  light. 

''We  remained  here  until  nearly  spring  time,  1837, 
before  any  boards  could  be  procured  to  add  to  our 
comfort.  We  felt  this  to  be  quite  a  severe  introduc- 
tion to  pioneer  life,  still  we  were  not  disheartened. 
As  soon  as  we  moved  into  the  shanty  I  was  obliged 
to  return  to  Dexter  to  purchase  provisions  which 
were  difficult  to  obtain  at  any  price.  Pork  was  $44 
a  barrel  and  flour  $14.  Contrast  this  with  the  prices 
two  years  later  when  we  had  produce  to  sell.  Wheat 
was  44  cents  a  bushel  but  no  cash,  corn  twelve  and 
one-half  cents  and  pork  one  and  one-half  cents  a 
pound.  (These  prices  were  partly  due  to  scarcity 
and  then  abundance  but  largely  to  the  fact  that  very 
cheap  money  was  abundant  in  1836,  but  after  the 


panic  of  1837  and  '38  money  was  practically  un- 
known. ) 

"We  could  generally  tell  how  long  a  man  had 
been  in  the  State.  The  second  year  he  was  obliged 
to  wear  his  best  coat  every  day;  the  third  year  he 
had  to  cut  off  the  coat  tails  to  mend  the  sleeves.  A 
few  of  us  built  a  shanty  and  supported  a  school  but 
it  was  four  or  five  years  before  a  district  was  or- 
ganized and  a  schoolhouse  built." 

Mr.  Montgomery's  first  wife  died  in  June,  1863, 
having  borne  him  nine  children,  some  of  them  since 
highly  honored  by  the  State  and  the  Nation.  He 
married  a  second  wife,  Mrs.  Nancy  Kingman,  in 
May,  1867.  He  died  sixteen  years  later  when  sev- 
enty-seven years  old. 

John  E.  Clark,  who  was  really  the  first  settler, 
(or  the  second  as  you  may  choose  to  count  it),  set- 
tled in  the  west  part  of  the  town  and  found  no  road 
near  his  land  and  no  neighbor  nearer  than  the  Wall 
settlement  in  Eaton.  He  relates  that  wild  game  was 
very  abundant  and  even  bears  a  nuisance.  Once 
hearing  a  hog  squeal  he  followed  the  sound  and 
found  a  large  bear  worrying  the  hog.  As  Clark  ap- 
proached the  bear  dropped  the  hog  and  turned  upon 
him.  He  retreated  into  a  small  tree  and  kicked  the 
bear's  nose,  then  called  to  his  hired  man  who  came 
and  shot  and  wounded  the  bear.  A  few  days  later  he 
again  heard  a  hog  squeal.  He  took  his  gun,  pursued 
and  shot  and  killed  the  bear.  It  proved  to  be  the 
same,  large,  old  gray  bear  with  a  kicked  nose. 


Simon  Darling  and  his  wife  and  three  children 
settled  upon  his  land,  section  12,  near  the  northeast 
corner  of  the  township  in  November,  1837.  He 
wrote  as  follows : 

"I  had  a  good  yoke  of  oxen  and  the  first  that 
ever  were  driven  over  what  was  called  the  Lansing 
road.  The  second  and  third  days  of  our  journey  it 
rained  constantly  and  we  were  saturated.  Streams 
were  greatly  swollen.  At  Leslie  a  man  told  me  the 
best  place  to  ford  Whitney  Creek.  We  prepared  for 
emergency.  My  wife  climbed  to  the  top  of  a  chest 
which  was  quite  high  and  put  the  children  in  a  wash- 
tub  on  the  extreme  top  of  the  load.  The  oxen  swam 
and  I  waded  to  the  further  shore  and  then  pushed 
onward.  The  next  night  but  one  we  reached  John 
Montgomery's  home,  the  seventh  after  leaving 
Dexter.  The  next  day  we  started  down  the  river 
and  reached  our  land  on  Section  12  where  our  life  of 
toil,  of  sunshine  and  shadow  commenced  in  good 
earnest.  My  wife  was  in  this  woods  six  months  be- 
fore she  saw  a  white  woman.  The  Indians  were  set- 
tled all  around  us  but  were  quiet  and  sociable.  The 
wolves  regaled  us  with  their  musical  talent  which 
was  extremely  wonderful  at  times.  By  the  way  we 
went,  it  was  seven  miles  around  to  mill  at  Eaton 
Rapids.  About  4:00  o'clock  A.  M.  I  started  and 
would  usually  reach  home  by  dark.  In  1841  my  wife 
went  east  for  three  months  taking  two  youngest 
children  and  leaving  two  with  me.  I  had  my  hands 


''One  niglit  I  was  awakened  by  Indians  making  a 
terrible  fuss.  I  dressed  hastily  and  went  out  to 
learn  the  cause.  An  Indian  told  me  the  soldiers 
were  after  them  to  take  them  away  off.  General 
Cass  had  made  a  treaty  with  the  Indians  who  were 
to  remove  beyond  the  Mississippi.  When  the  time 
came  they  refused  to  budge.  Some  ran  away,  some 
went  peaceably,  others  fought. 

''In  1841,  we  put  up  a  schoolhouse  strictly  in 
keeping  with  our  humble  ways.  It  was  built  of  logs 
with  a  roof  of  troughs.  A  favorite  pastime  of  the 
children  was  chasing  woodchucks  from  the  excava- 
tion of  these  same  logs.  We  hired  a  teacher.  Miss 
Cornell,  and  paid  her  the  munificent  salary  of  one 
dollar  a  week.  Bears  were  quite  plenty  and  w^e  used 
to  tell  the  children  to  make  a  noise  while  going,  to 
frighten  the  bears  away.  It  is  needless  to  say  the 
injunction  was  never  disregarded.  Bears  were 
abundant.  At  one  time  going  to  the  river  with  my 
little  boys  we  espied  five  of  them  quietly  feeding 
upon  acorns.  A  neighbor  named  Grovenburg  trap- 
ped many  of  them  with  an  immense  trap  weighing 
eighty  pounds.  He  was  skilful  setting  this  and 
skilful  in  tracking  a  bear  where  he  had  dragged  it 
away  as  they  sometimes  dragged  it  many  miles.  I 
once  ran  suddenly  upon  an  immense  bear.  He 
reared  to  meet  me.  I  struck  his  nose  with  a  heavy 
club  and  yelled  terrifically.  We  both  ran  in  opposite 

"Our  life  was  not  all  hardship.    We  were  a  social 


people  and  clung  to  each  other  in  privation  or 
plenty.  At  the  first  I  had  no  potatoes.  Branch 
and  myself  being  at  John  Montgomery's  he  said  we 
might  each  have  two  bushels  of  potatoes  if  we  could 
carry  them  home.  We  eagerly  accepted  and  carried 
them  a  distance  of  six  miles.  They  didn't  seem 
heavy,  we  were  so  glad  to  get  them. 

* '  Fabrics  for  clothing  were  sold  at  extremely  high 
prices.  Men  would  buy  buckskin  of  the  Indians  and 
make  them  into  breeches.  They  were  very  durable 
but  in  some  respects  peculiar.  A  neighbor  had  a 
pair  but  when  soaked  they  stretched  so  as  to  impede 
his  progress.  He  cut  them  off.  In  the  evening,  sit- 
ting before  the  fireplace  they  shrunk  beyond  ac- 
count. His  good  wife  made  him  take  a  pilgrimage  to 
the  woods  while  she  spliced  them  to  a  more  respect- 
able length. 

''In  1849,  we  moved  into  our  new  framed  house. 
As  we  look  back  over  our  early  life  in  the  wilderness 
we  can  perhaps  claim  as  much  sunshine  as  shadow 
in  the  past." 

B.  F.  Mills  from  Hartland,  Vermont,  settled  in 
Eaton  Eapids  August  12,  1837,  when  the  village 
contained  but  three  shanties. 

Willis  Bush  settled  here  in  1836,  and  Philip  Gil- 
man  in  1838. 

Henry  A.  Shaw,  a  native  of  Vermont,  had  taught 
school  and  began  the  practice  of  law  in  Ohio.  Be- 
cause of  failing  health  he  was  advised  to  get  out  of 
doors  and  to  go  west.    In  the  fall  of  1842  he  came  to 


Eaton  County  with  850  sheep.  These  he  sold  in 
vicinity  of  Eaton  Rapids,  Charlotte  and  Vermont- 
ville.  Previous  to  this  there  had  not  been  200  sheep 
in  Eaton  and  Barry  Counties.  He  purchased  lands 
in  Eaton  Rapids  and  ever  after  looked  upon  this  as 
his  home.  Mr.  Shaw  was  ever  prominent  in  the 
county  and  in  1855  he  was  sent  to  the  legislature 
where  he  at  once  took  a  prominent  position.  He 
introduced  and  carried  through  many  important 
measures.  In  fact  very  few  men  have  been  more 
useful  in  that  body.  He  was  again  elected  in  1857 
and  was  then  made  speaker  of  the  house.  In  1865, 
he  was  again  elected.  He  also  held  many  other 
offices  of  trust  and  responsibility.  He  served  with 
distinction  in  the  Civil  War.  He  was  always  very 
proud  of  the  young  lawyers  he  trained  in  his  office 
including  0.  M.  Barnes,  I.  M.  Crane,  M.  V.  Mont- 
gomery, 0.  F.  Rice,  and  Anson  Bronson. 

The  fertile  soil  of  the  plains  and  of  the  timbered 
land  together  with  the  improved  waterpower  aided 
in  the  rapid  development  of  this  town.  In  1844, 
there  were  eighty-nine  resident  taxpayers  in  the 

It  seems  the  early  records  of  election  have  been 
lost  or  destroyed  but  since  1850  there  have  been 
elected  supervisors:  James  Gallery,  W.  W.  Crane, 
R.  H.  King,  Rufus  Hale,  N.  J.  Seelye,  D.  B.  Hale 
and  others.  Some  of  these  have  been  several  times 
elected.  James  Gallery  was  supervisor  at  intervals 
for  more  than  thirty  years. 


In  1875,  nearly  half  a  century  ago,  James  Gallery 
wrote  an  extended  narrative,  historical  and  auto- 
biographical, from  which  I  make  free  extracts  as 
follows : 

''In  1836,  my  father  and  I,  in  New  York  State, 
accepted  Horace  Greely's  advice  and  moved  west. 
We  first  landed  at  Detroit,  returned  to  Toledo  and 
thence  to  Adrian.  For  public  land  and  a  permanent 
home  we  were  advised  to  seek  the  Grand  River 
country.  Arriving  at  Jacksonburg,  as  Jackson  was 
then  called,  we  there  arranged  with  a  professional 
land  looker  to  secure  for  us  a  quarter  section  of 
most  desirable  land,  heavily  timbered.  Late  the 
next  spring  we  received  a  duplicate  for  the  land  said 
to  be  about  two  miles  from  Spicer's  Mill.  Father 
and  I  started  at  once  and,  on  the  17th  of  August, 
1837,  arrived  at  this  place,  now  called  Eaton  Rapids. 
The  first  blow  had  been  struck  that  summer  by 
Spicer,  Hamlin  and  Darling  who  had,  the  year  be- 
fore, built  a  sawmill  at  Spicerville. 

' '  There  were  then  but  three  buildings  in  the  place. 
The  dam  across  Spring  Brook  was  partially  built. 
The  frame  for  the  grist  mill  was  up.  There  was  not 
a  bridge  across  any  stream  here.  The  three  fam- 
ilies here  at  that  time  were  of  Amos  Spicer,  Ben- 
jamin Knight  and  C.  C.  Darling.  Samuel  Hamlin 
at  that  time  lived  at  Spicerville. 

''We  saw  our  land  one  and  one-half  miles  from 
here,  were  well  pleased  and  returned  home.  We 
returned  about  November  1st  and    went    into  the 


house  of  Lawrence  Howard  while  we  rolled  up  the 
logs  for  a  house  of  our  own,  twelve  by  twenty-four 
feet  and  drew  boards  from  Spicerville  for  doors  and 
floor.  I  built  the  door,  also  a  chimney  of  stone, 
sticks  and  clay,  not  artistic  but  our  own,  and  filled 
with  average  enjoyment.  About  this  time  Amos 
Hamlin  built  here  a  slab  blacksmith  shop.  John 
Montgomery  had  raised  one  crop  of  wheat  and  from 
him  we  purchased  twenty-five  bushels  at  $1.25. 
There  was  no  grist  mill  nearer  than  Jackson  but  in 
January,  1838,  our  mill  was  started.  February 
seemed  the  coldest  month  I  had  ever  known  but 
March  warmed  up  beautifully  and  on  its  last  day  I 
planted  potatoes. 

''During  that  summer  the  first  store  was  built  by 
Benjamin  Knight.  The  following  winter  I  ran  the 
grist  mill  and  boarded  with  Mr.  Knight.  About 
this  time  the  township  was  organized  and  a  post- 
office  established. 

"In  1840  I  chopped,  logged,  split  rails  and  all 
kinds  of  pioneer  labor  but  found  it  not  to  my  taste. 
I  practiced  milling  for  several  years. 

''In  the  summer  of  1842,  our  village  took  its  first 
important  stride  toward  greatness.  A  dam  was 
built  across  Grand  Eiver  and  a  race  dug  to  com- 
bine the  water  power  of  the  two  streams.  The  mill 
was  enlarged  and  improved.  Two  churches  were 
built  although  not  completed  until  long  after.  This 
year  too  I  think  Hamlin's  Hotel  was  enlarged.  We 
soon  had  two  or  three  asheries  which  did  a  large 


business  in  black  salts,  pot  and  pearl  ashes  and 
saleratus.  This  was  a  very  important  industry  for 
the  farmers  who  were  clearing  land  and  had  ashes 
to  sell.  In  1844  a  carding  mill  was  erected  and  in 
the  summer  of  1846  a  foundry, 

' '  In  the  spring  of  1847,  my  health  failing,  I  looked 
for  a  more  healthful  occupation  and  thinking  a 
foundry  would  suit  me  I  at  once  bought  out  Mr, 
Spencer  and  soon  after  I  took  charge  of  the  busi- 
ness but  without  any  experience  in  the  business. 
Signed,  James  Gallery," 

The  postoffice  was  established  at  Eaton  Rapids 
about  1837-38,  with  Benjamin  Knight  as  postmaster. 
The  original  plat  of  the  village  was  laid  out  July 
19,  1838,  by  Amos  Spicer,  P,  E,  Spicer,  C,  Darling 
and  Samuel  Hamlin,  In  1839,  the  place  was  still 
very  small.  The  frame  of  the  old  ''Eaton  Rapids 
Hotel"  was  built  that  season.  The  "Morgan 
House"  was  built  in  1841-42  by  Horace  Hamlin.  In 
1849,  by  actual  count  the  entire  number  of  shingle 
roof  buildings  in  the  village  was  thirty-six. 

Oct,  14,  1859,  the  board  of  supervisors  of  Eaton 
County  incorporated  the  village  as  they  were  at 
that  time  authorized  to  do,  but  by  act  of  the  legisla- 
ture April  15,  1871,  it  was  enlarged  and  reincorpor- 
ated. In  1861  James  Gallery  was  President  and 
J,  Phillips,  Clerk, 

November  4,  1841,  Henry  Frink  was  hired  to 
teach  the  school  four  months  at  $23  a  month,  April 
13,  1842,  it  was  voted  to  have  school  five  and  one- 


half  months  by  a  female  teacher.  Harriet  Dixon 
taught  fifteen  weeks  at  $1.50  a  week.  November  21, 
1842,  Bird  Norton  was  hired  to  teach  four  months 
at  $15  a  month.  May  8,  1843,  Eliza  Goodspeed  was 
hired  to  teach  five  months  at  eleven  shillings  a  week. 
Other  teachers  followed  as:  A.  N.  DeWitt,  L.  S. 
Noyes,  Roxana  Skinner,  E.  D.  Noyes,  S.  P.  Town, 
Cynthia  Taylor,  and  Daniel  Palmer.  In  1850,  the 
number  of  pupils  had  so  increased  that  it  was  neces- 
sary to  occupy  the  Methodist  and  Congregational 

September  26,  1853,  it  was  voted  to  raise  $2,500 
to  build  a  new  school  house.  In  1870,  it  was  voted 
to  raise  $25,000  for  the  same  purpose. 

From  a  history  written  forty-two  years  ago  I 
copy  an  item  which  was  thought  to  be  of  much  con- 
sequence at  one  time  in  the  history  of  Eaton  Eapids. 
'' Within  a  period  of  ten  years  Eaton  Rapids  has 
become  famous  on  account  of  her  mineral  wells  and 
the  wonderful  cures  which  their  waters  have 
wrought,  and  to  judge  by  the  testimonials  volun- 
teered, some  of  them  were  indeed  wonderful. ' ' 


A  man  named  Bell  had  by  some  means  crept  into 
the  territory  of  this  township  and  built  a  shanty 
near  its  center.  This  he  had  deserted  and  gone  to 
Vermontville  in  September,  1836,  when  Harvey  and 
Orton  Williams  following  blazed  trees  of  the  Gov- 
ernment survey,  found  their  way  from  Bellevue  via. 
Kalamo,  secured  lands  on  sections  21  and  22,  occu- 
pied this  shanty  while  they  built  a  cabin  upon  their 
land.  They  did  not  return  to  occupy  this  until  June 
of  the  following  year.  While  in  this  shanty  Robert 
M.  Wheaton  stopped  with  them  while  looking  land. 

Mr.  Wheaton  became  the  first  settler  in  Chester 
as  he  came  with  his  wife  and  accompanied  by  Asa 
Fuller  and  his  wife  and  settled  upon  his  land  Octo- 
ber 20th,  1836.  Willard  Davis  of  Vermontville  (or 
at  that  time  from  Bellevue)  assisted  them  in  cutting 
a  road  all  the  way  from  Bellevue,  twenty  miles.  This 
would  seem,  today,  an  impossible  task  but  it  was 
only  repeating  what  pioneers  throughout  Michigan 
were  doing  at  that  time.  Mr.  Wheaton  was  the  first 
elected  supervisor  of  Chester.  He  was  also  the  first 
sheriff  of  Eaton  County  and  held  many  offices  of 

The  Williams  brothers  returned  the  next  June  ac- 
companied by  their  mother  and  two  other  brothers, 



John  and  Isaac.  Tliey  became  a  prominent  family 
and  each  of  the  brothers  held  public  office. 

Jared  Bouton  accompanied  by  his  two  brothers, 
Israel  and  Aaron,  moved  into  this  township  in  Feb- 
ruary, 1837.  They  reached  the  Bell  shanty  but  for 
several  weeks  they  were  not  able  to  cross  the  swollen 
Thornapple  Elver  and  it  was  not  until  April  that 
they  went  onto  their  farm. 

In  March,  1837,  Benjamin  E.  Rich  with  his  wife 
and  three  children,  a  wagon,  a  yoke  of  oxen,  five 
sheep  and  a  few  hogs  came  from  Adrian  via.  Jack- 
son and  the  Clinton  trail  to  the  place  he  occupied 
for  many  years  on  section  15.  He  had  traded  in 
Adrian  for  this  land  and  had  never  seen  it.  "When 
he  arrived  he  was  $400  in  debt  and  had  but  a  two 
dollar  bill  of  an  Adrian  bank.  He  sent  this  to  Belle- 
vue  to  pay  for  recording  his  deed  to  find  it  was 
good  for  nothing.  Robert  Wheaton  happened  to  be 
at  Bellevue  at  the  time  and  he  told  the  register  to 
record  the  deed  and  if  Mr.  Rich  did  not  pay  for  it 
he  would.  The  deed  was  recorded  and,  a  month 
later,  the  bank  at  Adrian  having  straightened  its 
affairs  the  same  bill  was  again  sent  and  this  time  it 
was  accepted. 

Amasa  L.  Jordan  settled  in  Chester  about  1840 
and  his  locality  became  known  as  Jordan's  Corners. 

Henry  Cook  settled  on  the  east  line  of  Chester 
October  1st,  1837. 

Asa  W.  Mitchell  settled  in  Chester  July  20,  1842. 
His  wife,  Lydia,  in  writing  her  biography  for  the 


pioneer  society,  relates  this  incident:  ''In  1842  we 
started  with  an  ox  team  to  go  forty-five  miles  to 
quarterly  meeting.  Our  little  girl  was  taken  sick 
that  day  and  we  thought  she  must  die;  but  fortu- 
nately for  us,  we  got  lost  in  the  woods  and,  in  our 
wanderings,  found  some  blackberries  which  she  ate. 
These  checked  the  disease  and  she  recovered." 

Eoswell  R.  Maxson  stopped  in  Jackson  County 
in  1837,  and  the  same  year  he  purchased  land  in 
Chester,  intending  to  settle  at  once;  his  family 
taken  sick  could  not  be  moved.  He  lived  alone  in 
the  woods  for  three  months.  He  forded  Grand  River 
nine  times  coming  from  Jackson  to  this  place.  He 
later  moved  his  family  into  Chester.  A  small  log 
shanty  was  erected  which  had  neither  doors,  win- 
dows nor  chimney  and  was  roofed  with  troughs.  To 
get  in,  it  was  necessary  to  step  over  a  log  two  feet 
in  diameter.  The  family  lived  in  this  through  the 
winter  which  was  a  severe  one.  Some  years  later 
Mr.  Maxson  built  one  of  the  largest  frame  houses 
in  the  county.  When  he  moved  in  but  one  family 
was  living  in  this  part  of  Chester,  Leonard  Boyer, 
who  settled  there  about  1837. 

The  township  was  organized  by  act  of  the  legis- 
lature approved  March  21,  1839.  It  included  what 
is  now  both  Chester  and  Roxand.  The  jury  chosen 
from  this  double  township  in  May,  1839,  was  as  fol- 
lows: Henry  Clark,  Orrin  Rowland,  Henry  A. 
Moyer,  John  Dow,  L.  H.  Boyer,  Lemuele  Cole,  Wm. 
Tunison,  Harvey  Williams,  Jared  Bouton,  Aaron 


Bouton,  Asa  Fuller,  Zeb.  Wlieaton,  Benjamin  E. 

At  tlie  first  election,  April  11,  1839,  tliirty-two 
votes  were  cast.  E.  M.  Wheaton  was  elected  super- 
visor, and  Harvey  Williams,  clerk.  Mr.  AVlieaton 
at  that  time  not  being  eligible  a  special  election  was 
held  in  May  and  John  Dow  was  elected.  Mr.  Whea- 
ton succeeded  him  in  1843,  followed  by  E.  E.  Max- 
son,  Hiram  Hutchins  and  Martin.  These  seemed 
to  alternate  and  each  was  several  times  subse- 
quently elected. 

In  the  fall  of  1839,  a  school  district  was  formed 
in  the  center  of  the  township  and  a  framed  school- 
house  was  erected.  This  was  the  first  district  or- 
ganized and  the  first  schoolhouse  built  but  it  was 
numbered  two  and  the  one  next  east  although  or- 
ganized a  little  later  was  numbered  one. 

This  township  had  less  of  swamp  than  some  of 
the  others  and  the  music  of  wolves  was  not  so  com- 
mon. Bears  too  were  perhaps  not  so  common  as 
elsewhere  but  doubtless  the  pioneers  had  much  of 
the  same  experiences  as  others  but  were  less  ye- 
hement  in  relating  and  recording  them.  This  histor- 
ian saith  not. 

Among  the  early  settlers  in  Chester  was  Martin 
Beekman  who  settled  in  the  extreme  northwest 
corner  in  1837,  but  because  of  his  remoteness  he 
should  not  be  overlooked.  His  sons,  William,  Cal- 
vin and  Benjamin,  later  did  him  much  honor. 

The  list  of  resident  taxpayers  in  1844  includes 


thirty-nine  names  so  the  settlement  was  well  started 
and  this  has  ever  since  been  a  very  prosperous  agri- 
cultural township. 

This  chapter  is  brief  and  little  apology  is  needed 
for  appending  here  the  "Pioneer's  Golden  Wed- 
ding" in  Oneida — close  neighbors  in  those  days.  Be- 
fore there  was  a  habitation  in  Oneida  the  nearest 
woods  path  approaching  it  terminated  at  Wheaton's, 
Fuller's  and  Boughton's  in  Chester.  Uncle  Samuel 
Preston,  opening  a  first  path  into  Oneida  left  his 
family  (including  his  seven  year  old  daughter 
Sarah)  with  these  neighbors  while  these  men  as- 
sisted him  in  cutting  a  path  eight  miles  to  his  land 
and  putting  up  a  frail  shanty  into  which  he  moved 
his  family  on  March  4,  1837,  the  day  Van  Buren 
was  inaugurated  President,  Nichols  family  came 
from  Canada  to  Oneida  almost  immediately  after- 
ward. Among  the  early  weddings  Aaron  Boughton 
married  Maria  Nichols  and  ten  years  from  this 
earliest  settlement  George  Nichols  married  Sarah 
Preston,  thus  organizing  a  family  afterward  well 
known  throughout  Eaton  County.  At  their  Golden 
Wedding,  February,  1897,  I  said  to  them : 


Here,  in  the  forest  primeval,  mid  endless 

Profusion  of  ibeech  and  of  maple, 
Through  valleys  and  dales  of  elm  and  swamps 

Of  tamarack  forbidding  and  solemn, 
O'er  hills  sparsely  topt  by  the  oak  and  the  hazel, 

Through  marshes  and  streams  and  morasses 
Entangled   with   wild   grass   and    tag-alder,    with   hearts 


As  strong  as  the  heart  of  the  oak 
Came  an  earnest  band  of  New  England  farmers. 

Three  full  score  of  years  have  now  passed 
And  the  few  that  remain  are  assem'bled  again; 

And  we  of  their  friends  who  stand  with  them 
Are  here  to  recall  a  happy  event 

That  gladdened  their  homes  in  the  forest. 
Not  the  first  happy  event  that  occurred, 

For  glad  events  oft  were  occurring. 
Hardships,  'tis  true,  formed  their  regular  order 

Of  living,  their  work  and  their  rest, 
So  to  speak,  and  their  diet.     But  pleasui'es  there  were, 

And  sweetest  of  these  was  their  courting. 
This  always  was  well  done  before,  out  oft 

Was   repeated   again   after   marriage; 
For  the  happiest  life,  the  poet  has  said, 

That  to  mortal  on  earth  can  be  given 
Is  always  to  court,  yes,  after  you're  wed, 

Thus  life  here  is  a  foretaste  of  heaven. 

What  sacrifice  more  sublime  has  been  made, 

Told  or  sung,  what  deeds  more  heroic. 
Than  the  life  of  the  Ibride  who  left  all  beside 

And,  clinging  like  vine  to  an  oak. 
Accompanied  her  husband  through  forests  as  wild 

As  the  beasts  in  their  lair,  or  the  red  men. 
And  with  no  neighbors  save  these  gave  her   life 

And  her  love  to  the  man  who  in  turn 
Would  give  all  of  his  love  and  his  life  and  his  labor 

To  shield  her  and  provide  for  her  children? 

Your  fortune  it  was  to  be  reared  in  a  pioneer  home 

Such  as  I  have  described. 
The  comforts  were  few  and  labors  were  hard 

Your  father's  keen  love  and   devotion 
And  your  mother's  affection  and  untiring  care 

E'er  governed  and  guarded  your  life, 
Directed  your  steps  and  led  you  in  holy 

Communion  with  Nature's  rude  charms. 
The  roar  or  the  wail  of  the  wind  in  the  wood 

iSeemed  murmuring  prayer  and  song; 
The  loud  pealing  thunder  was  God's  voice 

pioneer's  golden  wedding.  99 

Responding  or  shouting,  Amen. 
The  dark  rolling  clouds,  now  touching  the  trees, 

Were  Gideon's  fleeces,  you  knew. 
And  the  'bright   setting  sun,   dispersing  their  gloom, 

Formed  your  beauteous  pictures  and  true. 
They   were   mountains   of   gold    or   chariots   of   God, 

Or  the  highways   or  by-ways  of  angels. 
Though  your  home  was  a  hut  you  had  no  need  for  vain  art 

For  the  high  art  of  God  was  about  you; 
And  His  beauteous  bow  bespanning  the  heavens, 

Descending  on  forest  boughs 
Almost  to  your  feet  with  promise  replete, 

God's  promise  repeated  anew; 
For  with  pencil  of  light,  dipped  in  pure  waters  bright, 

He  had  painted  that  promise  for  you. 
So  the  birds  with  their  song  and  the  beasts  with  their  bleat. 

And  the  echoing  sounds  of  the  forest, 
Made  it  seem  a  vast  church  and  these  were  the  choir, 

All  singing  while  mankind  should  enter; 
And   the  wild  forest  flowers  with  their  perfume   so   sweet 

iSeemed  sweetly  bedecking  the  altar; 
The   stars   were   the   lights   in   the   dome   of   God's   church 

Or  the  eyes  of  His  angels  upon  you. 

And  you  were  a  child.     But  God  touched  your  heart 

And  planted  pure  seed  of  affection; 
And   when   it  had   grown   and   its   blossoms   were    shown 

Behold,  'twas  the  love  of  a  woman — 
The  fairest  of  flowers  that  ever  may  bloom, 

The  pure,  spotless  love  of  a  woman. 
And  a  hero  there  came  as  heroes  will  come. 

With  his  heart  all  aflame,  and  he  worshipped 
That  ibeautiful  flower.     So  he  stole  your  whole  heart 

And  transplanted  that  love  to  his  own. 
You  recked  not  of  the  theft  but  followed  the  love 

And  joined  your  whole  heart  with  his 
In  beautiful  love  and  feminine  trust. 

That  the  affection  might  grow  as  God  willed; 
For,  though  planted  by  God  and  nurtured  by  man, 

The  purest  affection  may  wither 
Unless  woman  be  there  and  by  her  constant  care 

She  guards  it  in  inclement  weather. 


So  here,  in  the  forest  primeval,  just  fifty 

Full  years  agone  at  this  hour, 
The  priest  proclaimed  to  the  world  what  God 

Had  already  done,  that  your  two  hearts 
Were  but  one,  and  thenceforth  your  two  lives  became  one 

Flowing  on  in  earnest  devotion. 
As  two  crystal  streams  unite  in  one  broadening  brook 

And  ever  flow  on  to  the  ocean. 

Then  came  the  mystery  of  heaven  to  earth- 
Three  of  you  soon  and  the  three  were  one; 

Like  showers  of  manna  God's  gifts  came  down 
And  crowded  your  humble  home. 

The  dearest  and  sweetest  of  blessings  that  God 
E'er  has  given  to  mortal  below 

Are  ripest  affection  of  wife  of  his  youth 
And  glad  love  of  children  she  bore  him. 

These  you  have  reared  in  patient  and  Christian 
Devotion.     The  long  days  of  toil 

And  the  dark  sleepless  nights   receive  their  reward 
In  true  children's  filial  affection. 

Then  thrice  blessed  are  you  for  not  only  numerous 
Children  but  children's  children's 

Children,  to  the  fourth  generation,  arise  up 
And  call  your  memory  blessed. 

Yes,  golden  indeed,  and  golden  of  goldens 

And  rarest  of  weddings  is  this  one; 
Not  only  four  generations  unite  with  your  friends 

In  wishing  blessings  upon  you,  but  rarest 
Of  facts,  your  mother  and  aunt  v/ho  have  watched 

Through  all  of  your  life  with  affection 
Are  with  you  anon.     So  five  generations 

Wish  you  happy  returns  that  may  follow. 

Yes,  Sarah  and  George,  great  grandparents  you  may  be 

But  children  you  are,  her  affection  to  rest  on, 
You're  children,  I  say,  good  children  today. 

To  great,  great  grandmother  Preston. 
So  we  bring  you  these  tokens  of  kindest  regard 

And  place  them  here  plainly  before  you. 
Hoping  the  future  may  bring  you  still  richer  reward. 

With   smiles   of   heaven   still   beaming   o'er   you. 


The  first  purchases  of  land  in  Kalamo  Township 
were  in  1835.  The  government  ''tract  book"  re- 
cords fourteen  purchases  that  year  and  fifty-six  in 
1836,  mostly  by  "speculators"  whose  names  we  can 
scarcely  afford  to  record.  In  September,  1836,  P.  S. 
Spaulding  having  purchased  land  here  came  and 
built  the  first  cabin  in  town.  He  then  w^ent  for  his 
family  with  whom  he  returned  in  November  the 
same  year  but,  while  absent  for  his  family,  Martin 
Leach  arrived  with  his  family  and  occupied  Mr. 
Spaulding 's  shanty. 

The  pioneers  had  a  custom  of  calling  a  man  "set- 
tled" only  wdien  his  family  were  with  him.  Thus 
Mr.  Leach  claimed  to  be  the  first  settler  but  Mr. 
Spaulding  has  a  claim  to  a  certain  priority.  Aaron 
Brooks  came  the  same  autumn.  Mr.  Spaulding  be- 
came a  prominent  citizen  well  known  throughout  the 
county  and  w^as  honored  w^ith  offices  of  trust. 

Hiram  Bowen  arrived  in  November,  1837,  with 
his  wife  and  four  small  children  and  accompanied 
his  brother  Daniel  B.  Bowen  who  brought  his  bride 
of  three  weeks  to  this  wild  wilderness.  The  next 
day  after  arrival  he  planted  apple  seeds  in  a  sap- 
trough  and  from  these  raised  the  first  orchard  and 
the  first  apples  grown  in  the  township  as  they  were 
in  bearing  in  six  years.    D.  B.  Bowen 's  house  was  a 



well  known  stopping  place  for  pioneers  and  trav- 
elers. He  lived  to  be  ''the  oldest  living  resident  of 
the  town."  Harvey  Wilson,  brother-in-law  to  D.  B. 
Bowen  moved  in  in  1838,  and  while  building  his 
cabin  moved  in  with  the  latter.  His  brother  Peter 
came  in  later. 

George  Wilson,  not  related  to  these,  came  in  1843, 
and  stopped  with  Mr.  Bowen  a  few  days  and  then 
moved  into  the  log  schoolhouse  while  he  built  on  his 
own  land.  This  w^as  a  common  custom  with 
pioneers.  If  any  one  had  a  roof  over  his  head  it 
furnished  ready  shelter  for  any  incoming  neighbor. 
The  elasticity  of  these  cabins  was  most  astounding 
as  witnessed  by  their  sometimes  furnishing  sleeping 
quarters  for  thirty-six  persons.  If  school  were  not 
in  session  the  schoolhouse  furnished  ready  domicile. 
Shall  we  pause  to  describe  this  most  interesting 
edifice  1 

It  is  already  a  legend  and  will  interest  more 
and  more  the  coming  generations.  It  was  a  log 
cabin,  of  course,  and  roofed  with  bark,  troughs  or 
shakes,  which  were  long  shingles  riven  by  the 
pioneers.  In  the  earliest  schooUiouses  in  this  county 
there  was  at  one  end  a  great  fireplace  whose  capa- 
cious throat  helped  amazingly  to  clear  away  and 
consume  the  encumbering  forest.  On  three  sides  of 
the  room  pegs  were  driven  into  the  logs  and  upon 
these  wide,  smooth  riven  slabs  were  laid  for  desks. 
In  front  of  these  were  puncheon  benches.  To  write 
or  cypher  all  pupils  faced  the  wall.    To  recite  they 


turned  gracefully  around  upon  the  bench,  the  grown 
girls  gathering  their  skirts  modestly  about  their 
ankles.  Grown  boys  brought  their  axes  and  cut 
abundant,  but  green,  fuel  from  the  surrounding 
forest.  A  wooden  latch  with  buckskin  string  fur- 
nished fastening  for  the  door  and  with  the  string 
'  *  drawn  in  "  it  was  a  lock  as  well.  A  few  years  later 
stoves  were  obtainable  and  the  open  fireplace  was  no 
longer  a  necessity.  Blackboards  were  unknown, 
neither  was  the  house  equipped  with  maps,  charts, 
globes  nor  encyclopedias. 

But  to  return  to  the  earlier  settlers — John  Mc- 
Derby  and  John  Davis  arrived  in  the  spring  of 
1837.  The  latter 's  cattle  strayed  away  and  were 
finally  found  near  Eaton  Rapids. 

Jonathan  Dean,  Sr.,  came  in  1837.  He  was  a  ver- 
itable "son  of  the  revolution."  His  father  was  a 
soldier  and  was  with  Washington  at  Valley  Forge. 
Mr.  Dean  crossed  the  Detroit  River  into  Michigan 
on  the  third  of  July,  1837,  and  spent  the  Fourth  in 
that  then  small  but  enterprising  village.  He  re- 
mained with  his  family  at  Plymouth  through  the 
summer  but  in  the  fall  his  three  older  boys  drove 
ten  head  of  cattle  and  two  hogs  all  the  way  via. 
Jackson,  Marshall  and  Bellevue  to  Kalamo.  They 
boarded  with  Louis  Stebbins  at  Carlisle  while  build- 
ing a  shanty.  The  rest  of  the  family  arrived  on 
Christmas  day,  1837.  The  son,  Jonathan  Jr.,  who 
became  the  father  of  our  honored  Frank  A.  Dean, 
was  but  seven  years  old  when  they  arrived. 


Many  incidents  are  related  of  the  Deans  in  their 
new  home.  Indians  were  abundant.  Fifty  or  a 
hundred  often  camped  in  this  township  for  the 
winter,  going  to  their  planting  grounds  in  the 
spring.  It  was  twenty-five  miles  to  the  nearest 
grinding  mill,  at  Marshall.  Mr.  Dean  watched  the 
Indian  method  of  grinding  and  copied  it.  Instead 
of  pounding  upon  a  flat  stump  he  hollowed  the  end 
of  an  upright  log  and  with  a  stone  pestle  did  effec- 
tive grinding  and  the  locality  was  known  far  around 
as  "Pestle  Hill."  Mr.  Dean's  eldest  son,  William, 
was  much  of  a  hunter  but  not  always  successful. 
He  asked  a  stalwart  young  Indian  to  show  him  his 
method.  He  replied,  "Come  on,  me  show  you." 
Finding  a  deer  track  he  followed  it  upon  his  fastest 
run  with  William  at  his  heels  and  continued  this  far 
into  Barry  County.  Finally  said,  "No  catch  'im 
today"  and  turned  homeward.  William  now  took 
the  lead  at  a  pace  the  Indian  could  scarcely  follow 
jumping  logs  and  streams  until  one  proved  too 
wide  for  the  Indian's  powers.  He  fell  short  and 
was  doused  to  his  waist.  On  reaching  the  Indian 
camp  all,  including  the  squaws,  laughed  most  heart- 
ily at  the  Indian  who  was  so  badly  beaten  at  his 
own  game. 

Erastus  demons  did  not  settle  here  until  1859, 
but  in  June,  1838,  he  drove  his  team  of  horses  from 
Marshall  to  visit  the  Herring  brothers  who  came 
that  spring  and  demons'  horses  on  this  trip  are 
said  to  be  the  first  horses  driven  in  Kalamo. 


E.  D.  Lacey  settled  in  Kalamo  in  1843.  Ed.  Lacey 
became  our  prominent  banker  at  Charlotte,  then 
Comptroller  of  the  Currency  at  Washington  and 
later  president  of  the  Bankers  Bank  of  Chicago. 

Joseph  Gridley,  well  known  throughout  the 
county,  settled  here  in  1846,  and  during  the  Civil 
War  was  postmaster  in  Kalamo. 

Until  March  15, 1838,  Bellevue  Township  had  com- 
prised the  northwest  quarter  of  Eaton  County.  By 
act  of  legislature  of  that  date  the  north  half  of  Belle- 
vue  was  organized  into  a  new  township  by  the  name 
of  Kalamo,  ^'and  the  first  township  meeting  there- 
in shall  be  at  the  house  of  Alonzo  Stebbins  in  said 
township. ' '  A  year  later,  on  March  21,  Carmel  was 
separated  from  this,  leaving  Kalamo  of  its  present 
size.  P.  A.  Stebbins  was  elected  the  first  supervisor 
and  succeeded  by  Bezaleel  Taft,  E.  H.  Evans,  Hiram 
Bowen,  P.  S.  Spaulding,  E,  D.  Lacey,  Benjamin 
Estes.  Several  of  these  alternated  and  were  re- 
peatedly elected.  In  1844,  there  were  fifty-three 
resident  taxpayers,  and  the  future  prosperity  of  the 
township  was  assured. 

Previous  to  1856  a  grist  mill  and  a  store  had  been 
built  at  Kalamo  village.  Joseph  Kent  kept  hotel 
in  his  log  house.  Kalamo  postoffice  was  established 
in  1845  and  with  Joseph  Kent  postmaster,  mail  was 
brought  from  Bellevue  once  a  week. 

In  1873  Frank  P.  Davis  surveyed  the  village  plat. 
His  father  before  him,  Willard  Davis  of  Vermont- 
ville,  had  been  a  surveyor  as  well  as  teacher  and 


legislator.  He  taught,  for  a  few  weeks,  in  Bellevue 
the  first  school  ever  taught  in  the  county,  varying 
his  usefulness  by  lay  preaching  on  Sundays.  He 
surveyed  and  assisted  in  opening  many  of  the  early 
roads  in  the  county. 

A  sawmill  was  built  at  Carlisle  in  1837  by  Charles 
Moffat.  It  was  afterward  owned  and  operated  by 
0.  A.  Hyde  and  the  locality  was  known  as  ' '  Hyde 's 
Mills."  E.  D.  Lacey  afterward  owned  the  mill  and 
operated  it  until  he  was  elected  county  register 
when  he  moved  to  Charlotte.  Carlisle  postoffice  was 
established  about  1850. 

The  first  schoolhouse  in  town  was  built  at  Car- 
lisle and  William  Fuller  was  the  first  teacher.  About 
1840  a  school  was  kept  in  the  southwest  corner  of 
the  town  in  the  Evans  neighborhood.  Mrs.  Peter 
Wilson  taught  school  in  her  own  house  in  the  Bowen 
neighborhood.  In  1879  there  were  eleven  school  dis- 
tricts with  528  children  of  school  age  and  $3,760 
worth  of  school  property  in  the  township. 

It  is  said  that  the  largest  tree  in  the  county  and 
perhaps  the  largest  in  the  State,  formerly  stood  in 
Kalamo  Township,  a  gigantic  sycamore,  hollow  the 
whole  length,  and  the  hollow  sixteen  or  seventeen 
feet  in  diameter.  A  door  was  cut  into  this  and  it 
is  said  that  men  road  in  on  horseback.  The  tree 
was  cut  down  with  the  purpose  of  taking  a  section 
to  Marshall  to  be  occupied  as  a  grocery.  There  were 
no  auto  trucks  in  those  days  and  the  scheme  was 
abandoned  from  lack  of  transportation  facilities. 


The  government  "tract  book"  shows  five  pur- 
chases of  land  in  Walton  in  1835  and  seventy-three 
in  1836 ;  most  of  these  by  speculators  who  never  set- 
tled here.  Captain  James  W.  Hickok,  son  of  a 
Revolutionary  soldier  who  was  present  at  the  sur- 
render of  Burgoine  in  1777,  was  the  first  settler  in 
this  territory  arriving  in  February,  1836,  and  bring- 
ing his  family  the  same  season.  Coming  in  from 
Bellevue  his  wife's  limb  was  broken  before  they 
reached  their  wild-wood  home  and  she  was  carried 
on  a  litter  back  to  Bellevue  to  the  home  of  a  friend 
where  she  remained  in  bed  many  weeks  and  on  the 
7th  of  September  a  son  was  born  to  her,  the  first 
male  child  born  in  Eaton  County.  He  was  given 
the  full  name  of  our  distinguished  citizen,  and  later 
our  Congressman,  Isaac  E.  Crary  Hickok,  Captain 
Hickok  was  afterward  six  times  elected  township 
supervisor  and  also  elected  to  both  branches  of 
State  legislature. 

The  second  settler  was  P.  P.  Shumway  who  be- 
came the  first  supervisor.  His  daughter,  born  July 
4,  1838,  was  the  first  child  born  in  the  township. 

The  third  settler  was  Joseph  Bosworth  who  raised 
his  shanty  on  October  10  and  moved  in  the  11th, 
"and  slept  welL"  His  nearest  neighbor  was  Cap- 
tain Hickok,  three  miles  south  and  to  the  north  no 



house  was  nearer  tlian  ''Searls  street,  Charlotte." 
His  place  was  afterward  known  as  "Bosworth's 
Mill."  His  diary  records:  "October  26,  cut  dam 
timber;  November  2,  had  bee  on  mill  dam."  This 
was  upon  his  own  place,  on  a  small  creek  and  later 
known  as  ''Mill  Creek."  During  the  following 
winter  Mr.  Bosworth  w^orked  at  building  his  mill 
which  was  raised  June  20, 1840,  but  a  freshet  carried 
it  away  on  June  27.  The  dam  was  washed  away 
soon  after  but  all  was  repaired  and  the  mill  began 
sawing  December  7,  1840.  His  son,  Miles  L.,  was 
born  January  10,  1839. 

Eight  years  after  the  first  settlement  there  were 
fifty-three  resident  taxpayers  in  the  township  but 
many  of  these  were  at  Olivet  whose  history  over- 
shadows the  rest  of  Walton.  The  early  settlers 
found  an  Indian  village  on  the  present  site  of  Olivet. 

Eev.  J.  J.  Shipherd,  familiarly  known  at  Olivet  as 
"Father  Shipherd",  was  the  founder  of  Oberlin 
college  and  sought  to  found  another  on  like  plans 
at  Grand  River  City,  better  known  as  Delta  Mills,  in 
Eaton  County.  In  this  project  he  seemed,  for  a 
time,  successful.  Sufficient  land  was  purchased 
and  in  New  England  he  secured  subscriptions  for 
sufficient  money  in  1836,  but  the  panic  of  '37  made  it 
impossible  to  collect  these  and  the  project  was  aban- 
doned although  the  foundation  had  been  laid  for  a 
large  college  building.  Father  Shipherd  was  again 
commissioned  by  authorities  at  Oberlin  to  locate  a 
site  for  another  colony  and  college.     On  his  way 

OLIVET.  109 

from  Marshall  to  Delta  Mills  lie  became  lost  in  tlie 
oak  grubs  of  Walton.  He  rested  upon  tlie  hills  at 
Indian  Village  and  three  times  he  essayed  to  go 
northward,  but  three  successive  times  he  found 
himself  back  upon  the  same  hills  where  now  stands 
Olivet  college.  He  interpreted  this  as  Divine  guid- 
ance and  kneeling  in  prayer  dedicated  the  site  then 
for  the  future  college.  He  named  the  hill  ^ '  Olivet ' ' 
and  Indian  Creek  he  called  "Brook  Kedron."  The 
land  was  secured  but  the  colony  and  the  college 
were  conceived  in  poverty  and  brought  forth  in 
destitution.  He  returned  to  Oberlin  where  one  man 
had  already  promised  his  family  to  go  with  the  new 
colony.  This  was  ''Father  Hosford",  the  father 
of  the  well  known  Prof.  0.  Hosford.  He  solicited 
other  families  to  join  as  that  of  Carlo  Reed  (father 
of  our  esteemed  Fitz  L.  Reed),  W.  C.  Edsell,  Hiram 
Pease,  Phineas  Pease,  George  Andrus,  with  their 
families,  and  four  single  men,  A.  L.  Green,  Phineas 
Hagar,  Joseph  Bancroft  and  Fitz  L.  Reed.  The 
three  former  came  as  students  for  the  college.  "With- 
in the  households  were  two  young  ladies,  Jennie 
Edsell  and  Abby  Carter.  The  entire  colony  con- 
sisted of  twenty-four  adults  and  fourteen  children. 
They  left  Oberlin  on  February  14,  1844,  driving 
some  cattle  and  their  conveyances  drawn  by  ox 
teams.  If  there  is  no  mistake  in  the  published  dates 
they  arrived  at  Olivet  ten  days  later.  They  ar- 
rived on  Sunday  and  Mr.  Shumway  vacated  his 
premises  for  them  and  made  them  welcome  to  any 


stores  in  his  barn  or  cellar.  Some  found  shelter  in 
the  Indian  huts  until  new  shanties  could  be  raised. 
The  winter  and  spring  were  given  to  clearing  away 
the  oak  grubs  and  planting  crops.  The  creek  was 
dammed  and  mills  begun.  Eight  months  were 
passed  but  "turning  up  the  new  soil"  or  "the  ma- 
laria arising  from  the  dammed  creek"  (the  causes 
assigned  by  these  hardy  pioneers)  brought  ague 
every  second  day  and  terror  every  first.  Modern 
science  reveals  that  mosquitoes  inoculated  them  with 
ague  but  this  they  never  dreamed.  In  October  they 
seriously  discussed  abandoning  the  project  entirely 
but  only  a  belief  that  God  w^as  testing  their  faith 
held  the  half  of  them  faithfully  here  while  the  other 
half  abandoned  them. 

Early  in  December,  1844,  Olivet  college  was 
opened  with  nine  students.  A.  L.  Green,  one  of  the 
students,  erected  of  logs  a  private  dormitory  and 
study  for  himself  but  it  served  as  chapel  and  recita- 
tion room  and  later  as  postoffice. 

Two  Oberlin  students  who  had  nearly  completed 
their  theological  course  became  the  teachers.  These 
were  Reuben  Hatch  and  Oramel  Hosford.  Later 
Mr.  Hatch  was  succeeded  by  Prof.  Bartlett.  These 
two  with  their  wives  were  the  teaching  force  for 
fifteen  years.  Soon  as  a  frame  residence  was 
erected  in  Olivet  it  was  utilized  for  a  place  of  wor- 
ship on  Sundays.  The  policy  of  the  legislature,  for 
a  time,  was  to  charter  no  college  but  the  University. 
This    was    then    chartered    as    Olivet    Institute. 


Many  youtlis  received  instruction  here  but  by  1859 
the  rapid  growth  of  the  Union  school  system  offered 
nearly  equally  good  advantages  in  every  village  of 
size,  and  Olivet  had  ceased  to  grow.  A  crisis  was 
at  hand.  Many  again  thought  of  giving  it  up  en- 
tirely. But  at  this  time  Rev.  M.  W.  Fairfield  was 
called  as  pastor  of  the  church  and  principal  of  the 
school.  Under  his  direction  the  trustees  secured  a 
charter  for  Olivet  college  and  its  doors  were  first 
opened  as  such  in  September,  1859,  with  a  freshman 
class  of  five  members.  Your  historian  was  there  as 
a  junior  prep.  The  faculty  consisted  of  Rev.  M.  W. 
Fairfield,  Rev.  0.  Hosford  (who  heard  the  first  reci- 
tation in  Olivet  and  heard  the  same  for  half  a  cen- 
tury), Rev.  N.  J.  Morrison,  Dr.  A.  A.  Thompson 
and  Miss  Mary  J.  Andrews. 

The  college  buildings  were  a  small  two  story 
frame  building  (since  known  as  Colonial  Hall)  with 
two  recitation  rooms  on  the  first  floor  and  very  small 
dormitories  above,  and  this  and  a  small  wooden 
church  ow^ned  jointly  by  the  church  and  college,  were 
the  only  occupied  buildings.  The  college  museum  and 
the  college  library  were  both  domiciled  in  the  church 
entry.  The  bare  walls  w^ere  up  for  Ladies'  Hall, 
since  called  Shipherd  Hall,  only  these  and  nothing 

The  pioneer  days  of  Olivet  Institute  were  over 
and  my  history  might  well  end  here  but  I  may  briefly 
add  that  President  Fairfield  resigned  in  1860,  and 
college  classes  were  broken  up  by  the  Civil  War.    In 


1862,  Rev.  Thomas  Jones  was  appointed  financial 
agent  and  he  succeeded  in  raising  some  of  the  much 
needed  funds.  In  1864,  Prof.  Morrison  was  elected 
president  but  resigned  June  19,  1872.  Prof.  J.  H. 
Hewitt  assumed  his  duties  until  June,  1875,  when 
Rev.  H.  Q.  Butterfield  was  elected  president. 

My  own  experience  at  Olivet  was  in  no  way  ex- 
ceptional but  typical  and,  for  that  reason  only,  per- 
missible here.  I  remember  well  there  was  one  stu- 
dent and  one  only  who  hired  his  board  and  furnished 
room  and  paid  therefor  cash,  $1.50  a  week.  We 
wondered  greatly  at  his  wealth  or  his  profligacy. 
Nearly  all  pupils  were  farmers'  sons  or  daughters. 
Nearly  all  rented  bare  rooms  and  furnished  them 
from  their  homes.  Light  housekeeping  was  the  pre- 
vailing practice.  If  the  sons  had  sisters  there,  aU 
went  well.  If  parents  resided  near,  very  much  of 
cooking  was  done  at  home  and  sent  in  by  mother. 
Several  young  men  would  join  together  in  a  board- 
ing club  and  bringing  provisions  from  farm  homes 
would  hire  a  woman  by  the  week  to  cook  for  them. 
They  lived  royally. 

I  was  a  lad  of  fourteen  years  who  had  never  been 
from  home  before.  My  roommate  was  an  older  lad 
who  had  been  my  teacher  the  year  before,  moreover 
he  had  been  at  Olivet  one  term  before  this  and  spent 
some  time  with  old  friends  while  I  was  left  alone.  I 
remember  a  feeling  of  dense  loneliness  at  times 
overcame  me,  but  home-sickness,  never.  Our  moth- 
ers sent  us  from  twenty-five  miles  away  pies  and 

OLIVET.  113 

cookies.  I  remember  tliat  neither  lasted  very  long, 
and  that  for  a  well  known  reason.  We  had  flour  and 
mother  had  kindly  arranged  with  our  landlady  to 
bake  our  bread.  She  sent  three  hot  loaves  to  our 
room  at  a  time.  I  remember  one  large  loaf  would 
disappear  at  a  first  sitting.  Dish  washing  would 
have  been  our  main  difficulty — but  we  avoided  it. 
This  was  before  the  days  of  canned  vegetables  or 
fruit,  but  mother  provided  us  with  green  corn  which 
she  had  dried.  Monday  was  our  holiday  and  it  was 
my  task  each  Monday  to  keep  a  kettle  of  this  upon 
our  box  stove  soaking  and  boiling  but  somehow  I 
never  made  it  palatable.  Perhaps  I  forgot  the  salt 
or  seasoning. 

I  was  told  that  the  fact  that  I  had  come  to  Olivet 
was  significant  call  to  the  Congregational  ministry 
and  that  I  should  begin  the  study  of  Greek  at  once. 
I  bolted  at  this  as  I  wanted  the  common  school 
studies  to  equip  myself  for  teaching.  They  com- 
promised, putting  me  into  geometry.  My  teacher 
of  English  grammar  was  a  Latin  student  and  we 
learned  only  from  the  mistakes  he  made  in  English. 

I  was  in  Olivet  when  kerosene,  or  coal  oil  as  it 
was  called,  first  came  into  use.  One  student  there 
and  one  only  had  a  coal  oil  lamp.  We  wondered 
greatly  that  he  could  turn  the  blaze  up  at  pleasure. 
The  oil  was  dark  colored  and  the  blaze,  although 
not  black,  approached  that  color. 

This  was  in  the  days  when  pioneers  throughout 
Eaton  County  were  driven  back  to   their  former 


liomes  by  the  prevailing  ague,  but  Olivet  caught  a 
double  or  quadruple  portion.  That  dammed  creek 
and  decaying  mill  pond  brought  malaria  or  mos- 
quitoes, to  unendurable  discomfort.  I  stayed  my 
limit,  then  on  my  well  day,  walked  home  through 
drifting  snow  and  had  my  chills  not  every  other  day 
but  every  day  for  three  full  weeks. 

Returning  to  the  story  of  the  town  and  village, 
Edwin  N.  Ely  came  to  Olivet  as  a  student  in  1848, 
but  soon  became  associated  with  A.  L,  Green  and 
his  father  in  business  enterprises.  Milling  and 
mercantile  business  were  conducted  by  the  firm  and 
for  many  years  they  conducted  the  principle  busi- 
ness of  the  village.  The  first  store  in  Olivet  was 
opened  in  1848  under  name  of  A.  L.  Green  &  Co. 
The  first  counter  was  a  rough  board  laid  upon  empty 
boxes  and  Mr.  Ely,  then  in  their  employ,  opened 
the  stock  of  goods  which  had  been  taken  in  exchange 
for  a  house  and  lot  in  Erie  County,  New  York. 

Walton's  first  postoffice  was  established  in  1838 
and  Captain  Hickok  commissioned  as  first  post- 
master at  the  same  time  that  Jonathan  Searls  was 
commissioned  first  postmaster  at  Charlotte. 

In  May,  1839,  school  districts  one  and  two  were 
organized.  Between  the  ages  of  five  and  seventeen 
years  there  were  fourteen  children  in  No.  1  and  six 
in  No.  2.  It  was  voted,  that  autumn,  to  build  frame 
schoolhouses  in  each  district  to  cost  respectively 
$500  and  $200.  Laura  Hart  was  employed  to  teach 
district  No.  1  for  one  dollar  a  week. 


The  early  supervisors  of  Walton  were  P.  P.  Slium- 
way,  Flavel  Stone,  J.  W.  Hickok,  A.  L.  Green,  Carlo 
Reed,  Osman  Chappell.  The  latter  was  elected  four- 
teen different  times.  Captain  Hickok  six  times,  B.  W. 
Warren  five  times,  Asa  K.  Warren  four  times  and 
A.  L.  Green  three  times.  He  was  also  elected  to 
both  branches  of  our  State  legislature  and  served 
for  many  years  as  leading  trustee  for  Olivet 


The  second  purchase  of  land  from  the  government 
in  Eaton  County  was  from  section  2  in  Oneida.  That 
section  includes  the  north  half  of  the  City  of  Grand 
Ledge,  the  islands  and  the  ledges.  Perhaps  the  pur- 
chaser, H.  Mason,  was  a  member  of  the  surveying 
party,  or  learned  of  them,  but  the  purchase  did  him 
little  good.  It  was  sold  for  taxes  four  years  later. 
Land  in  this  township  seemed  exceptionally  desir- 
able as  witnessed  by  four  purchases  in  1833,  three 
in  '35  and  eighty-five  in  1836. 

On  the  5th  of  October,  1886,  I  said  to  my  father, 
John  Strange,  ''So  far  as  we  can  learn,  you  are  the 
only  person  living  who  had  set  foot  in  Oneida  fifty 
years  ago."  He  was  not  the  first  settler  but  of 
land  lookers,  who  afterward  became  settlers,  he  was 
of  the  first  party.  Others  followed  but  a  day  later. 
He  with  his  brother,  George  Strange,  and  Peter  M. 
Kent  (or  Kind,  as  his  father  spelled  the  name)  slept 
upon  the  ground  under  the  canopy  of  heaven,  upon 
section  34  which  they  chose  the  following  day.  Also 
on  that  day,  October  6,  1836,  they  met  in  the 
forest  six  men  from  Canada  who  selected  land  and 
became  the  founders  of  Canada  Settlement  and 
neighbors  for  fifty  years. 

The  first  actual  settler  in  Oneida  was  Solomon 
Russell ;  guided  by  Stephen  Groger,  the  first  settler 
in  Eagle  (the  township  next  north)  and  a  profes- 


"^     ONEIDA   TOWNSHIP.  117 

sional  land  looker,  he  cut  his  road  ten  miles  through 
this  limitless  forest  and  landed  his  wife  and  small 
children  in  a  shanty  mid  two  feet  of  snow  in  January 
or  February,  1837.  His  large  family,  except  one 
daughter,  have  long  since  passed  away  and  she  can 
tell  me  nothing  more  of  how  he  made  this  perilous 
trip  or  who  assisted  him.  He  afterward  had  two 
hired  men,  Robert  Eix  and  Wm,  Henry,  who  both 
became  settlers  in  the  vicinity.  Perhaps,  and  I  may 
say  probably,  they  assisted  in  cutting  this  road, 
building  the  shanty  and  bringing  in  the  family.  This 
probability  is  rendered  almost  certain  by  the  further 
recorded  fact  that  soon  after  this  Mr.  Russell  fell 
upon  his  axe  and  was  severely  cut  and  was  carried 
upon  a  litter  back  to  Eagle.  Indians  may  have  car- 
ried him,  but  probably  Rix  and  Henry.  It  is  said 
that  his  incoming  journey  was  by  ox  team  from  Or- 
leans County,  New  York,  through  Canada  and  Oak- 
land, Shiawassee  and  Clinton  counties  in  Michigan. 
Two  of  his  brothers  were  also  early  settlers  here. 
William  became  the  first  grocer  in  Grand  Ledge 
and  John  W.  became  a  wealthy  farmer  just  west  of 
Grand  Ledge.  Their  nephews  also  were  early  set- 
tlers here. 

The  second  settler  (and  he  deserves  the  same 
credit  as  the  first  for  he  believed  himself  alone  in 
this  limitless  forest)  was  Samuel  Preston  who  came 
in  from  the  south,  through  Jackson  and  Spring- 
port  when  there  were  but  nine  houses  between 
his  place  and  Jackson.     Robert  Wheaton  and  Asa 


Fuller  had  cut  their  path  through  some  twenty  miles 
of  forest  from  Bellevue  and  erected  their  shanties 
the  previous  October.  Mr.  Preston  followed  their 
trail  to  their  homes  in  Chester.  There  he  left  his 
wife  and  two  small  children  while  he  hired  these  two 
neighbors  to  assist  in  cutting  a  road  to  his  land  eight 
miles  further  in.  A  friend  had  selected  the  land 
for  him  the  previous  fall.  In  a  day  and  a  half  they 
reached  the  land.  In  a  short  time  the  shanty  was 
erected  and  covered  when  he  returned  for  his  fam- 
ily and  on  the  4th  of  March,  1837,  while  Martin 
Van  Buren  was  taking  oath  of  office  in  Washing- 
ton, Mr.  Preston  and  family  ''settled"  in  a  home 
without  floor,  door  or  window.  Blankets  were  hung 
at  these  and  they  slept  in  assumed  safety  but  upon 
pushing  the  blankets  at  the  door  aside  in  the  morn- 
ing a  large  wolf  was  seen  smelling  at  the  door  and 
skulking  away.  Mr.  Preston  had  Indian  neighbors 
but  supposed  there  were  no  white  settlers  within 
eight  miles  until  Mr.  Groger  stumbled  upon  him 
and  told  him  of  his  neighbor  Russell  but  one  and  a 
half  miles  away  and  added,  "Six  Canadians  are 
slashing  down  timber  to  beat  the  oldest  but  two  and 
a  half  miles  east  of  you."  He  was  right.  Three 
brothers  named  Nichols  and  three  named  Nixon 
had  selected  their  land  the  October  before  and  now 
returned  to  remain.  On  the  last  day  of  February, 
1837,  they  arrived,  built  their  shanty  and  slept 
in  it  the  first  night.  Two  of  them  returned  to  Can- 
ada in  April  to  bring  back  oxen  to  log  up  the  trees 


tliey  liad  cut  down.  They  all  became  prominent  men 
in  the  county,  State  legislature,  etc.  The  families 
of  Preston  and  Nichols  became  united  in  marriage 
and  their  sons,  grandsons  and  great  grandsons  are 
today  prominent  professional  or  business  men  in 
the  cities  of  Grand  Rapids,  Ionia,  Lansing  and  De- 
troit, and  Los  Angeles,  California. 

They  credit  the  place  of  third  settler  to  John 
Stanley  who  arrived  with  wife  and  family  early  in 
the  spring.  He  sowed  two  bushels  of  spring  wheat 
and  from  it  harvested  sixty  bushels.  They  no  longer 
doubted  the  fertility  of  the  soil.  Mr.  Stanley  was 
renowned  for  his  facility  in  getting  lost.  He  once 
drove  his  cattle  across  Grand  River  where  Lansing 
now  is,  twelve  miles  away,  thinking  he  was  driving 
them  towards  home.  At  another  time  he  forded 
Grand  River  six  times  thinking  all  the  time  he 
was  headed  toward  home.  His  neighbors  spent 
much  time  searching  for  him.  He  could  not  be- 
lieve his  pocket  compass  which  would  point  in  six 
directions  in  a  half  hour. 

The  venerable  T.  W.  Nichols,  ''Uncle  Walker", 
arrived  with  the  wives  and  families  in  June.  His 
three  grown  sons  had  preceded  him.  His  three 
younger  sons  came  with  him.  George  W.  (later  to 
become  the  best  known  of  them  all)  was  then  fifteen 
and  w^as  delegated  to  drive  the  loose  animals  from 
Canada.  Hiram,  younger  still,  became  a  preacher 
and  John  Wesley,  the  youngest,  became  a  prom- 


inent  lawyer  in  Charlotte.  Daughters  innumerable 
married  and  settled  round  about. 

School  district  No.  1  was  soon  organized  here  and 
Abigail  Billings  taught  the  first  term.  She  was 
courted  by,  and  married,  Jason  Nichols.  They  be- 
came parents  of  a  family  of  teachers  and  of  a  prom- 
inent laAvyer  of  Lansing  who  bears  his  father's 

The  second  term  was  taught  by  my  mother,  then  a 
maiden,  Emma  0.  Sprague.  I  should  not  mention 
this  fact  except  for  an  unusual  pioneer  incident.  It 
was  common  for  incoming  pioneers  to  be  housed  in 
the  schoolhouse  while  building  a  shanty  if  there 
was  no  school  at  the  time  but  here  was  an  unique 
case  of  housing  a  family  and  the  school  at  the  same 
time.  It  was  easily  managed.  The  family  hid  their 
dishes  in  a  box  and  repaired  to  the  forest  before 
school  hour  where  the  husband  cut  trees  and  the 
wife  piled  the  brush  until  noon.  The  teacher  and 
pupils  sat  in  the  shade  of  the  forest  to  eat  their 
lunch  while  the  wife  prepared  and  ate  lunch  with 
her  husband.  Dishes  were  put  away  without  wash- 
ing and  school  again  ''took  up". 

School  district  No.  3  was  two  miles  further  west. 
My  mother  taught  the  first  school  there.  One  winter 
there  was  no  school  when  Edward  McMullen  arrived 
with  his  numerous  family.  They  occupied  the 
schoolhouse.  He  had  but  fifty  cents  upon  arrival 
here  but  Irishman-like  he  purchased  with  it  a  pig; 
not  for  the  parlor  but  kept  it  in  a  hollow  log  se- 


curely  fastened  at  tlie  ends,  but  a  knot  hole  at  the 
top  served  for  feeding  place.  After  a  light  snow, 
bear's  tracks  were  often  seen  around  this  log  and 
upon  its  top  where  bruin  had  smelled  the  pig  beyond 
his  reach.  One  morning  bruin  left  his  tracks  upon 
the  window  sill  where  he  had  evidently  smelled  the 
Irish  fry  within. 

This  story  of  the  early  settlement  of  South  Oneida 
has  often  been  w^ritten  and  published  but  of  North 
Oneida  I  find  no  written  record.  Suffice  it  to  say 
that  in  the  northwest  four  brothers  named  Johnson 
settled  in  a  very  early  day  and  gave  it  the  name  of 
Johnson  Settlement  which  it  will  doubtless  ever 
bear.  Their  school  district  is  No.  2  and  of  course 
numbered  quite  early.  Truman  and  Orange  John- 
son both  became,  much  later,  merchants  in  Grand 
Ledge.  Smith  and  Morris  Johnson  remained,  I 
think,  upon  their  farms  well  known  and  esteemed. 
Four  other  brothers  named  Jones,  later  settled  in 
this  neighborhood  and  reared  large  families,  Wash- 
ington, Simeon,  Charles  and  Bradford  were  their 
respective  names.  The  latter  became  the  father  of 
J.  V.  Jones,  a  teacher  of  much  local  renown,  an  ex- 
ceedingly bright  and  apt  teacher.  Had  he  acquired 
a  college  education  combined  with  energy  he  might 
have  become  a  foremost  teacher  in  the  State. 

In  1844,  Eric  Sutherland  arrived  from  New  York 
with  his  large  family  of  grown  children,  having 
driven  a  team  all  the  way.  His  grandchildren  and 
great  grand  and  great,  great  grandchildren  have  be- 


come  very  numerous  in  town.  His  oldest  son  Eliliu 
had  visited  Oneida  in  1842,  but  came  to  settle  in 
1845,  In  1847,  when  the  capital  was  located  in  Lan- 
sing he  took  contract  to  clear  trees  from  Washing- 
ton avenue,  there  then  being  but  one  house  in  Lan- 
sing. He  also  helped  get  out  the  timber  for  the  old 
State  Capitol.  His  grain  market  was  at  Marshall 
or  Jackson  fifty  miles  away.  He  started  to  name 
his  eight  children  all  with  initial  E,  Emory,  Emily, 
Elmer,  Emerson,  Ella  C,  etc.,  etc. 

East  of  these  was  settled  Philander  Parmenter, 
accidentally  shot  and  killed  while  hunting  deer.  At 
the  corner  east  was  George  W.  Jones  who  with  his 
brother-in-law,  L.  H.  Ion,  was  often  honored  with 
public  office;  and  near  him  William  Henry,  who 
became  the  wealthiest  farmer  in  the  township,  and 
Amadou  Aldrich  known  far  and  near  for  his  num- 
erous family  of  sons  and  daughters.  South  of  these 
and  nearer  Oneida  Center  were  Peter  Cole,  Peter 
Blasier  and  Van  Alstine.  Mrs.  Van  Alstine  lived 
to  be  the  last  survivor  of  the  early  pioneers.  To- 
ward the  southwest  were  Ambrose  Preston,  Henry 
Earl  and  Benjamin  Carr.  At  the  west  Rufus  Lovel, 
Lucius  Benson  and  Dr.  Lamb.  Hixsons,  Eddy  and 
Bailey  were  also  early  settlers. 

At  the  site  of  the  present  city  of  Grand  Ledge 
Henry  A.  Trench  was  the  early  pioneer.  He  owned 
forty  acres  at  the  very  heart  of  the  city.  He  was 
sui  generis.  He  was  educated  at  Oberlin  and  was 
for  many  years  township  inspector  of  schools.    He 


lectured  in  the  log  sclioolliouses  upon  scientific  sub- 
jects and  occasionally  wrote  correct  but  brief  arti- 
cles for  the  public  press  but,  beyond  this,  he  had 
little  idea  of  making  his  learning  productive.  He 
had  a  soldering  iron  and  went  about  among  the 
pioneers  mending  tin  pans  and  was  known  as  ''Tin- 
ker Trench."  He  was  an  idealist  and  appreciated 
his  picturesque  surroundings.  When  Grand  Ledge 
was  becoming  a  village  he  said  Nature  had  named 
it — the  only  ledge  upon  the  Grand.  Why  not  Grand 
Ledge  as  well  as  Grand  Rapids!  At  a  public  meet- 
ing called  to  name  the  incoming  postoffice,  names 
of  early  settlers  were  proposed,  but  Reuben  Wood 
said,  ''Let  us  give  it  a  local  name."  George  Jones, 
always  prompt  upon  his  feet,  made  motion  that  it 
be  called  Grand  Ledge.  This  was  unanimously 
adopted.  The  question  of  who  named  Grand  Ledge 
has  been  as  perplexing  a  problem  as,  "Who  struck 
Billy  Patterson?"  The  above  seems  to  divide  the 
honors  according  to  the  facts. 

Edmund  Lamson  was  also  an  early  settler  and 
owned  much  of  the  land  here.  In  the  winter  of  1848- 
49  the  legislature  granted  right  to  John  W.  Russell 
and  Abram  Smith  to  dam  Grand  River  at  this  point. 
David  Taylor  joined  with  them  in  building  the  dam 
and  mill.  This  was  later  sold  to  Kent,  Hixson  & 

In  1859  Reuben  Wood  and  Nathan  Allen  built  the 
first  store  and  put  in  a  stock  of  goods  on  the  north 
side,  planning  that  there  should    be    the    business 


center.  William  Eussell  kept  the  first  small  gro- 
cery, also  the  first  hotel. 

The  first  bridge  across  the  river  was  built  in  1853 
and  the  postoffice  established  in  1850  with  Henry  A. 
Trench  postmaster.  There  was  no  mail  route  but 
villagers  took  turns  in  going  for  the  mail.  It  was 
understood  in  Lansing  that  whoever  brought  the 
mail-bag  was  authorized  to  take  the  mail. 

The  original  town  of  Grand  Ledge  was  laid  out 
October  28,  1853,  and  the  village  incorporated  by 
act  of  legislature  approved  April  8,  1871. 

The  Township  of  Oneida  was  organized  by  act  of 
legislature,  approved  March  6,  1838,  to  include  the 
northeast  one-fourth  of  Eaton  County,  "and  the 
first  election  shall  be  at  the  house  of  T.  W.  Nichols. ' ' 
On  March  9,  1843,  this  was  divided  and  Delta  and 
Windsor  were  formed.  A  year  later  the  township 
was  again  divided  and  Benton  created,  first  called 
Tom  Benton  for  the  distinguished  U.  S.  Senator. 

The  early  officers  were,  of  course,  chosen  from 
the  larger  field.  Supervisor,  A.  Hayden;  Town 
Clerk,  J.  H.  Nichols;  Assessors,  Samuel  Preston, 
John  Slater  and  T.  W.  Nichols.  Four  of  the  Inger- 
sols  from  Delta  Mills  were  elected  to  offices  at  this 
first  election.  Subsequent  supervisors  in  Oneida, 
T.  W.  Nichols,  Erastus  Fisher,  George  Jones,  Eph- 
riam  Stockwell,  L.  H.  Ion,  Smith  Johnson.  Some 
of  these  were  several  times  elected. 

According  to  the  first  State  census,  1844,  there 


were  at  that  time  fifty-three  resident  taxpayers  in 

Of  early  incidents,  typical  of  all  pioneer  life  in 
Michigan,  Robert  Starks,  one  of  the  earliest  settlers, 
had  a  wolf  trap  dragged  away  by  a  bear  for  sev- 
eral miles  but  he  was  easily  trailed  and  finally 

Mrs.  Samuel  Preston,  while  alone  with  her  small 
children  in  their  rude  shanty,  had  a  recently  killed 
pig  hung  in  a  small  lean-to  against  the  shanty.  She 
was  surprised  by  the  ever  silent  Indians,  three  of 
whom  suddenly  stood  beside  her  and  demanded 
meat.  She  shook  her  head,  having  none  to  spare. 
They  replied,  "Smokeman  (that  is  white  man)  kill 
pig. ' '  She  explained  she  needed  it  for  her  papooses, 
pointing  to  them.  Finally  their  spokesman  replied, 
"Me  get  it."  and  started  for  the  outside  entrance. 
She  ran  before  him  and  placing  her  back  against 
the  door  defended  the  meat  and  the  Indians  de- 
parted. That  she  then  fainted  deponent  saith  not. 
Her  son,  Horace  Preston,  born  that  first  season, 
1837,  was  the  first  child  born  between  the  Thorn- 
apple  and  the  Grand  River.  (Pioneers  would  say 
first  white  child,  for  they  counted  Indians  as  neigh- 
bors.) When  this  child  was  a  few  months  old  Mrs. 
Preston  spent  the  night  with  a  sick  neighbor  a  few 
miles  aw^ay  and  at  morn  started  for  home  with  the 
babe  upon  her  arm.  She  became  lost  in  the  forest 
and  wandered  nearly  the  whole  day  with  the  babe 


upon  her  arm  which  was  partially  paralyzed  for 
several  weeks. 

When  my  older  sister  w^as  but  one  week  old  and 
mother  still  in  bed,  they  heard  commotion  at  the 
hog  pen.  The  nurse  (hired  girl  they  called  them 
then)  ran  out  and  saw  a  bear  biting  and  mauling 
a  pig  toward  the  forest.  She  ran  to  the  nearest 
neighbor,  a  widow  with  daughters.  They  came  and 
pounded  on  the  fence  and  scared  bruin  away.  When 
my  father  and  his  brother  Charles  returned  home 
they  found  the  hog  must  be  killed,  but  they  set  a 
*' dead-fall"  and  baited  it  awaiting  the  bear's  re- 
turn. The  next  day  they  were  rewarded  by  hearing 
a  terrific  bawling  or  howling  and  there  was  bruin 
with  three  immense  pegs  driven  through  him.  Uncle 
Charles  crushed  his  skull  with  the  axe-poll  and 
silence  ensued.  AAHien  Mark  Twain  was  shown 
Adam's  grave  in  a  cave,  he  said  he  knew  it  w^as 
Adam's  for  he  reached  in  with  a  long  pole  and  felt 
the  skeleton.  I  know  the  above  is  true  for  that 
bear's  skull  was  a  favorite  toy  of  my  childhood. 


Roxand  was  somewhat  belated  in  lier  early  de- 
velopment. Her  lands  seemed  not  so  desirable  to 
either  pioneers  or  speculators,  as  witnessed  by  the 
fact  that  no  lands  were  purchased  there  prior  to 
1836  and  only  twenty-five  purchases  that  year, 
which  was  not  the  case  in  any  other  township,  and 
contrasts  strongly  with  Oneida  where  there  had 
been  four  times  as  many  entries  or  purchases.  For 
this  delay  there  were  several  reasons ;  there  were  no 
streams  or  promised  mill  sites  which  were  such  an 
attraction  in  other  towns.  The  land  was  heavily 
timbered  and  lies  mainly  very  flat  and  in  the  wet 
season  was  largely  under  water.  Now,  thoroughly 
drained,  it  exhibits  some  of  the  most  productive 
farms  in  the  county,  but  pioneers  were  not  looking 
forward  seventy-five  years  to  thorough  drainage. 
Again  it  seemed  remote.  It  was  a  long  way  from 
Bellevue,  the  favorite  enterport.  It  was  not  easily 
accessible  from  the  north,  the  east  nor  southeast 
like  Delta  and  Oneida.  It  was  beyond  the  realm  of 
Mr.  Groger  in  Eagle  who  led  so  many  across  Grand 
River  into  Oneida  and  possibly  Benton  and  Delta. 

Orrin  Rowland  and  Henry  Clark  were  the  first 
settlers  in  1837.  Aaron  and  Benjamin  French  and 
William  Cryderman  followed  soon  after  in  the 
spring  of  1838.     Andrew  Nickle  also  came  at  this 



time  and  raised  corn  and  potatoes  but  he  was  not 
''settled"  as  his  wife  did  not  arrive  until  fall.  He 
had  begun  improvements  there  January  1,  1838. 
His  first  son,  John  Nickle,  was  born  there  in  1840, 
one  of  the  first  births  in  the  town.  Lemuel  Cole 
located  land  there  in  1837  but  whether  he  settled 
that  year  or  the  following  is  in  dispute  and  perhaps 
can  never  now  be  determined. 

John  McCargar,  a  young  single  man  with  time  and 
enterprise,  came  in  1837  and  searched  diligently 
over  several  townships  for  land  exactly  to  his  fancy. 
Samuel  Preston,  who  had  then  been  but  a  few  weeks 
in  Oneida,  finally  showed  him  the  tract  that  filled 
his  eye,  upon  the  south  town  line  of  Roxand,  high 
and  dry  without  a  foot  of  waste.  He  purchased 
two  hundred  acres.  He  was  lost  over  night  in  a 
swamp  on  his  way  to  Ionia  to  secure  this  land.  For 
three  months,  in  the  spring  of  1838,  he  lived  alone 
in  a  small  shanty  he  had  built  upon  this  land,  doing 
his  own  cooking  and  without  any  help.  He  married 
in  1843,  and  was  then  "settled." 

Henry  A.  Moyer  settled  just  west  of  him  in  1839 
and  became  very  prominent  in  the  town  and  county. 
He  was  born  in  New  York,  February  12,  1812.  He 
came  to  Washtenaw  County  in  1833,  and  thence  to 
Eaton  County.  His  home  was  the  place  of  holding- 
township  elections  and  was  a  stopping  place  for 
Indians.  He  and  his  wife  were  noted  for  their 
hospitality.  He  was  the  first  postmaster  in  Roxand 
in  1849  and  his  son,  W.  Irving,  was  postmaster  dur- 


ing  the  war  and  later.  Mrs.  Mary  F.  Youngblood, 
sales  manager  for  tliis  History,  is  a  daughter  of 
W.  I.  Moyer. 

Henry  A.  Moyer  took  deep  interest  in  public  af- 
fairs and  offices  were  tlirust  upon  him  during  his 
life  which  terminated  in  1857.  His  four  sons  and 
daughter  (who  married  Dr.  P.  Green  of  Vermont- 
ville)  were  all  highly  esteemed. 

John  Fullerton  came  with  wife  and  two  children 
on  July  4,  1843. 

Another  account  says  that  John  Dow  was  the  first 
settler  in  Roxand  in  1837.  He  was  upon  the  extreme 
west  line,  his  farm  lying  in  both  Roxand  and  Sun- 
field.  Rowland  and  Clark  were  in  the  east  and 
might  have  lived  many  months  thinking  there  were 
no  others  within  many  miles.  Give  due  credit  to  all 
for  pioneer  enterprise.  Mr.  Dow  reported  that  he 
drove  an  ox  team  forty-eight  miles  to  mill ;  the  trip 
and  return  required  nine  days.  He  was  super- 
visor of  Chester  when  Roxand  was  a  portion  of 
that  town  and  afterward  supervisor  of  Roxand  and 
Sunfield  forty-three  years,  or  so  long  that  the  mem- 
ory of  man  ran  not  to  the  contrary. 

Robert  Rix  settled  in  Roxand  about  1840  but  he 
had  a  previous  record  connected  with  pioneer  his- 
tory of  Eaton  county  that  merits  recall.  We  first 
hear  of  him  at  Portland  in  1835.  In  November  of 
that  year  he  started  with  Mr.  Hixson  to  drive  ox 
teams  to  Detroit  for  provisions.  A  terrible  rain 
storm    overwhelmed    them    at    night    before    they 


reached  Dewitt.  They  were  drenched  to  their  skins 
and  the  oxen  inextricably  mired  in  darkness  so  in- 
tense that  naught  could  be  seen.  They  remained  all 
night  chilled  to  their  bones  with  their  teams  in  worse 
plight  still.  They  were  able  to  proceed  the  next  day 
and  from  there  to  Detroit  the  roads  were  incon- 
ceivably bad — no  crossways  over  swamps,  sloughs 
nor  streams  and  much  travel  had  reduced  the  roads 
to  a  mush  axle  deep.  They  were  on  their  way  to 
Detroit  from  November  7  until  December  25.  A 
merry  Christmas  truly.  They  stayed  in  the  open 
air  eleven  nights  on  this  trip.  Mr.  Rix  rightly  said, 
"No  one  can  appreciate  the  difficulties  and  hard- 
ships of  such  trips  unless  he  has  had  similar  ex- 

We  next  find  Mr.  Rix  in  Oneida  building  the  first 
shanty  there,  and  that  for  Solomon  Russell.  Mr. 
Russell  had  cut  a  path  to  his  land  through  ten  miles 
of  trackless  forest  without  guide  except  the  survey- 
ors '  marks.  They  began  together  to  cut  logs  for  the 
shanty  but  while  cutting  the  second  log  Mr.  Russell 
fell  upon  his  axe  and  nearly  severed  his  arm.  He 
was  cared  for  and  Mr.  Rix  completed  the  shanty 
alone  and  the  family  moved  in  before  it  was  com- 
pleted, while  the  weather  was  intensely  cold. 

In  1837  Mr.  Rix  entered  forty  acres  on  section  21 
in  Oneida  and  settled  there.  Two  years  later  he 
sold  and  moved  to  Ada  in  Kent  county  w'here  he 
remained  one  and  a  half  years  and  next  settled  more 
permanently  on  section  35  in    Roxand.      He    was 


elected  in  1843  the  first  supervisor  of  Roxand  but 
resigned  and  John  Dow  succeeded  him  and  held  the 
office  until  1851,  when  he  built  a  new  house  upon 
his  farm,  but  across  the  road  in  Sunfield,  and  there 
he  was  supervisor  for  the  succeeding  twenty-eight 
years.  First  elected  in  1851,  Henry  A.  Moyer  was 
supervisor  of  Roxand  five  years  and  then  John 
Vanhouten  until  1871. 

Peter  C.  Vanhouten  settled  here  in  1838,  and 
Adam  Boyer  in  1839. 

By  act  of  legislature,  March  19,  1843,  this  town- 
ship was  set  off  from  Chester  and  given  the  name  of 
Roxand.  The  first  election  was  April  17,  1843,  with 
but  eighteen  electors. 

The  origin  of  the  name  was  long  in  dispute.  It 
was  not  Rock-sand;  that  is  not  found  there.  All 
agree  the  name  came  through  illegible  writing. 
Some  said  the  petitioner  asked  that  it  be  named 
Roxana  for  a  notorious  woman.  The  legislative 
clerk  mistook  the  final  a  for  a  d.  Hence  the  name. 
Others  say  the  clerk  could  read  R  o  x  and  some- 
thing more  was  utterly  illegible,  so  he  wrote  and. 

The  Capitol  was  located  at  Lansing  in  1837,  when 
there  were  at  most  but  two  houses  there.  Roads 
were  needed  to  reach  this  important  center.  Wil- 
lard  Davis  of  Vermontville  was  employed  to  survey 
a  State  road  from  that  place.  A  very  direct  route 
would  have  been  directly  east  through  the  wilds  of 
Chester  and  Benton  to  where  Potterville  now  is  and 
thence  into  Lansing  by  the  Battle  Creek  or  Char- 


lotte  road.  An  equally  direct  route  would  have 
been  from  Vermontville  northeast  into  the  black  ash, 
elm  and  soft  maple  flats  of  Roxand  and  thence  east 
into  Lansing  but  the  road  was  laid  with  many  angles 
to  accommodate  the  early  settlers.  From  Ver- 
montville northeast,  a  few  miles  to  the  township  line, 
thence  east  to  pass  Moyer,  McCargar,  Maxson,  H. 
Earl  and  Ambrose  Preston,  thence  again  northeast 
to  reach  Samuel  Preston  and  McMullen  and  again 
east  to  pass  Strange,  Huckins  and  to  Canada  Set- 
tlement, thence  northeast  to  accommodate  John 
and  Samuel  Nixon  in  Delta  and  on  to  what  is  now 
known  as  Saginaw  street.  This  led  into  Lansing  a 
half  mile  north  of  the  Capitol  and  was  nearly  a  mile 
further  than  if  they  had  gone  directly  east  on  St. 
Joseph  street.  This  would  have  been  again  through 
black  ash  flats,  needing  cross-way  for  many  miles. 

I  well  remember  when,  many  years  later,  Samuel 
Nixon  circulated  a  very  urgent  remonstrance 
against  opening  St.  Joseph  street  saying  it  would  be 
ten  years  before  it  could  be  as  good  as  the  road  now 
in  use.  Traveling  that  road  today  between  those 
fertile  farms  we  may  well  wonder  that  anyone  ever 
opposed  opening  a  road  upon  that  section  line. 

The  diagonal  portions  of  that  Lansing  State  road 
have  nearly  all  been  taken  up  and  closed  long  ago. 
Farmers  do  not  favor  diagonal  roads  through  their 
farms  although  they  somewhat  shorten  distances  to 

It  was  not  until  1869  that  Grand  Ledge  had  an 


operating  railroad  bringing  a  market  somewhat 
nearer  to  Eoxand  and  about  ten  years  later  still 
Roxand  had  a  railroad  of  her  own  and  a  sprouting 
village  at  Mulliken. 

A  girl  student  at  Olivet  college  in  more  recent 
years  read  an  essay  describing  her  grandfather's 
flight  through  the  forest  pursued  by  the  wolves  of 
Roxand.  This  was  taken  by  some  as  a  real  pioneer 
incident  but  the  then  living  pioneers  who  had  known 
the  forest  in  the  early  days  regarded  it  as  purely 
imaginative  fiction. 

Speaking  of  pioneers  and  of  colleges  it  is  perhaps 
fitting  here  (space  permitting)  to  pay  some  tribute 
to  that  pioneer  of  farmers'  colleges,  the  first  State 
agricultural  college  ever  established  on  earth,  our 
own  Michigan  Agricultural  College.  This  was  es- 
tablished near  Lansing  and  opened  for  students  in 
1857.  I  was  graduated  there  ten  years  later  in  1867 
(the  first  young  man,  I  think,  from  Oneida  ever 
graduated  from  any  college.)  My  classmate,  Henry 
Jenison  of  Eagle,  and  I  are  now  the  oldest  surviving 

At  the  semi-centennial  of  the  birth  of  this  college 
a  very  important  celebration  was  given  in  May, 
1907.  President  Roosevelt  gave  a  memorable  ad- 
dress. I  prepared  for  that  occasion  the  following 
verse : 

The  Fakmers'  Morning. 

"And  the  Evening  and,  the  Morning  were  the  first  Day." 

In.  early  twilight  of  our  history  ere  the  darkness  covered  all 
One  named  Cain  attempted  farming,  all  because  of  Adam's  fall. 
But  his  fruits  were  not  accepted;  he  was  sent  to  land  of  Nod, 
(Meaning,  doubtless,  land  of  slumber)    He  was  curst,  we  read, 
of  God. 

And  darkness  covered  the  earth. 

And  men  toiled  for  their  subsistence,  digging  roots  and  gnawing 

Scarcely  clothed  and  ever  hungry,  toiling,  sitting  in  the  dark. 
Then  some  puny  goats  they  captured,  yielding  milk  and  flesh 

of  kid. 
And  some  herds  of  kine  surrounded;  that  was  all  the  farmers  did. 
And  darkness  veiled  the  whole  earth. 

Then  the  centuries  kept  passing  and  this  darkness,  ever  dense, 
Never  lifted,  never  lifted;  e'en  its  substance  you  could  sense. 
Sixty  centuries  of  night  time;  men  and  women  homespun  clad; 
Children  in  the  snow  were  barefoot;  comforts  very  few  they  had. 
And  poverty  ruled  o'er  the  household. 

Sixty  centuries  of  struggling;    men  had  learned  to  wield   the 

Or  with  ax  or  hoe  or  sickle  in  the  broiling  sun  to  writhe. 
Men  were  racked  on  wheel   of   labor,   and   their  homes   could 

scarce  provide 
With  the  means  for  their  subsistence;   little  wealth  was  there 


And  the  night  wore  weary  on. 

Some  there  were  who  carried  torches,  thinking  thus  to  shed  some 

In  the  dark  and  doleful  places  of  that  long  drawn  toilsome  night. 
There  was  Dr.  Benjamin  Franklin  with  his  little  lamps  alive, 


M.    A.    C.    SEMI-CENTENNIAL.  135 

"He   who   by   the   plow   would   prosper    must,   himself,   hold   it 

or  drive." 
General  Washington,  the  farmer,  wakeful  to  his  country's  needs, 
Advocated  crop  rotation,  said  "Import  some  better  breeds." 
And  a  distant  light  seemed  dawning. 

In   the  twilight   of  the  morning  Bakewell   dreamed,  as  in   the 

How  we  might  improve  our  cattle.     Then  he  woke  and  struck 

a  light. 
Jethro  TuU  said,  "Lessen  labor,  let  machinery  lighten  toil. 
Humphrey  Davy  held  a  search  light;  like  X-ray  it  shone  through 

Laws  and  Gilbert,  like  great  prophets,  held  aloft  this  brilliant 

"Thought    should    dominate    all    labor."     Then    may    end    this 

darkest  night. 

And  our  horizon  was  brightening. 

Then  the  stars  seemed  paling  gently,  stars  of  superstitious  light. 

These  had  given  light  scarce  plenty  through  that  long  drawn, 
toilsome  night. 

By  their  light  our  great  ancestors  thought  they  read  in  wav- 
ering line, 

"Watch  the  moon  for  all  your  movements.    Plow  and  plant  and 
pluck  by  sign." 

Now  the  stars  are  swiftly  paling.     What's  that  marvelous  light 
in  east? 

While  their  eyes  are  eager  watching  it  has  rapidly  increased. 
'Tis  the  rising  sun  approaching. 

While  they  watched  a  blinding,  fierce  light  cast  o'er  earth  its 

dazzling  sheen; 
Farmers  and   their   sons   were   startled;    naught   like   it  before 

was  seen. 
And  they  cried  out,  "Put  that  light  out  ere  it  blinds  our  blinking 

But  their  sons  looked  eager  at  it,  questioning  if  their  sires  were 


It  was  the  State  Agricultural  College. 


And  they  watched  it  through  smoked  glasses  as  from  earth  it 

seemed  to  rise, 
Glasses  too  of  many  colors,  for  its  brightness  tried  their  eyes. 
While  some  blinking  eyes  were  blinded  by  the  light  that  shone 

Other  intellects  illumined  glowed  like  dew  drops  in  the  sun. 
Myriads  of  glistening  dew  drops  sparkled  in  this  morning  bright, 
And  to  some  that  sun  seemed  precious  when  they  first  beheld 

its  light. 

And  they  bathed  their  souls  in  its  sunshine. 

Dew  drops  kissed  by  sun  soon  scatter,  but  they  fructify  the 

And  the  plants  begin  to  blossom,  welcoming  the  sun's  advance. 
And  the  morning  glories,  early  ope'  at  first  approach  of  sun. 
Many  blossoms  greet  the  farmer  from   this  light  that's  scarce 


And  the  college  light  is  looming. 

Some  bouquets  already  gathered  from  the  fields  she's  looked  upon 
Testify   by   their    sweet    perfume    of   the    light   they've    drawn 

Large  bouquets  of  many  blossoms,  rich  with  fragrant  honey,  too. 
Shall  I  name  to  you  some  blossoms  that  to  all  the  world  are  new 
While  we  bask  in  the  college  sunshine? 

First  and  foremost,  cultured  children,  taught  by  college  or  her 

For  she's  sent  forth  many  teachers,  some  enthusiastic  ones. 

"Yes,  them  flowers  are  purty,  purty,"  sordid  sires  may  some- 
times say, 

"But  we  want  flowers  that  yield  us  honey;  something  that  we 
know  will  pay, 

"Something  we  can  turn  to  money;  meed  of  labor,  learning,  law, 

"The  almighty  golden  dollah;  that's  what  all  are  fighting  fob." 
iSuch  the  sordid  sentiment  of  some. 

M.    A.    C.    SEMI-CENTENNIAL.  137 

Well,  from  sheep's  back  shear  your  fleeces,  forty  pounds,  some- 
times, you  know, 

All  because  our   light   increases;    we  have  learned   to   make   it 

And  your  porkers  from  old  rooters  man's  intelligence  has  grown. 

Your  best  cow  gave  how  much  butter,  ere  the  college  light  had 

Are  you  using  sterilizers  for  the  microbes  which  you  own? 

Have  you  learned  of  fertilizers  now  by  college  nodules  grown 
By  soil  innoculation? 

Are  you  raising  beets  for  sugar,  canning  waste  in  silo  too? 

Spraying  fruits,   dehorning  cattle?     Thousand   things  you  now 
can  do. 

What  do  your  tomatoes  look  like  by  the  side  of  ancient  ones? 

Are  you  raising  seedless  apples,  thornless  berries,  pitless  plums? 

What  destroyed  the  smut  and  weevil?    What  think  you  of  pedi- 
greed wheat? 

What   about   that   improved   seed   corn   adding   millions  in   one 

■These  but  morning    lory  blossoms,  many  hued. 

Sixty  centuries  of  night!     The  day  should  surely  be  as  long. 
Half  a  century  of  light;  and  now  we  pray  that  light  prolong. 
These  were  blossoms  plucked  at  morn;  what  may  we  hope  from 

midday   sun? 
The  college  light  has  scarcely  dawned.     Watch  for  results  not 

yet  begun. 
The   rising   sun   makes    dew   drop    diamonds;    'tis   midday   sun 

that  ripens  grain. 
The  morning  sun  has  ibrought  us  treasure.     None  can  conceive 

our  future  gain. 
We've  learned  that  light  can  lessen  labor,  God's  gifts  to  gather 

from  glad  soil. 
'Tis  morning  now,  awake!  Arise,  and  greet  the  sun  that  lights 

our  toil — 

While  the  College  Sun  is  rising! 


Benton,  Tom  Benton,  was  not  far  behind  the  other 
townships,  first  settled  in  1837.  There  was  but  one 
purchase  of  government  land  here  in  1835,  but  there 
were  forty-five  in  1836. 

Japhet  Fisher  is  counted  the  first  settler  in  the 
spring  of  1837,  although  he  was  not  married  until 
1838.  We  first  learned  of  him  when  he  was  "hired 
man"  with  Samuel  and  Jonathan  Searls  when 
theirs  was  the  only  habitation  in  the  county  save  at 
Bellevue.  They  were  at  the  southeast  edge  of  the 
Charlotte  prairie.  Fisher  w^as  with  them  when  Mrs. 
Searls  so  suddenly  died.  He  ran  at  once  to  Bellevue 
to  tell  them  of  the  approaching  funeral  cortege  and 
to  send  his  own  clothes  as  far  as  Indian  Village, 
where  Olivet  now  is,  that  the  mourning  husband 
might  be  decently  dressed.  Fisher  selected  land 
near  Searls  but  in  applying  for  it  he  named  town- 
ship three  north  instead  of  two  north  as  he  intended. 
This  placed  him  in  Benton  six  miles  further  away. 
For  a  time  he  thought  the  land  not  worth  occupying 
but  in  1837,  he  raised  both  corn  and  potatoes  there 
while  he  courted  a  girl  in  Chester.  He  was  a  some- 
what eccentric  character  and  almost  constantly  went 
barefooted  until  his  soles  were  callused  until  briars 
and  thistles  affected  them  not  at  all.  His  frolicsome 
neighbors  often  experimented  with  them  greatly  to 
their  amusement. 



Orrin  Moody  was  the  next  settler  in  the  northwest 
part  of  town  where  he  built  his  shanty  in  the  spring 
of  1837.  He  came  in  on  the  Clinton  trail  but  must 
have  cut  his  own  path  through  several  miles.  He 
was  to  the  manner  born.  I  know  not  how  many 
farms  he  had  cleared  in  New  York  and  elsewhere; 
but  when  this  farm  was  well  cleared  he  moved  three 
miles  further  east  into  dense  forest  where  he  and 
his  grown  sons  cleared  three  farms  and  then  went  to 
the  wilds  of  Isabella  county.  Moody  was  an  expert 
in  all  the  arts  of  clearing  land.  It  was  his  delight, 
at  a  logging  bee,  to  select  his  three  rollers  or  assist- 
ants, and  then,  with  his  team  of  oxen,  to  put  up  more 
and  larger  log  heaps  than  all  the  rest. 

Frederic  Young  came  in  May  of  the  same  year 
and  built  his  shanty  at  the  north  edge  of  the  ''Old 
Maid's  swamp"  one  and  one-half  miles  from  neigh- 
bors and  so  it  remained  for  many  years.  I  remem- 
ber many  a  winter's  night  listening  to  the  howling 
wolves  and  asking  father,  where  are  they!  "Over  by 
Fred  Youngs 's"  was  the  constant  answer.  Mrs. 
Young  was  very  timid  and  her  long  pioneer  life 
must  have  been  constant  misery. 

Hosey  Hovey,  a  surveyor,  settled  here  in  1840, 
and  left  his  name  to  Hovey  Settlement,  which  it  may 
ever  retain  although  otherwise  his  name  is  nearly 

B.  F.  Bailey  was  an  early  settler  and  the  first 
supervisor.     His  son,  Frank  Bailey,  born  in  1841, 


was  the  first  male  ''white"  child  born  in  the  town- 

H.  H.  Hatch  moved  in  in  1840  and  his  daughter 
Gertrude  was  the  first  child  born  here. 

Bennett  I.  Claflin  on  the  4th  of  July,  1842,  twelve 
days  after  his  marriage,  settled  here.  "Their  chil- 
dren arise  up  and  call  them  blessed."  He  was  the 
first  mail  carrier.  He  carried  mail  once  a  week 
from  Jackson  to  Grand  Eapids  on  the  old  Clinton 
Trail  and  he  had  several  holes  dug  along  the  route 
where  he  would  pass  the  night  alone  with  his  mail- 
bag.  This  was  a  United  States  road  built  under 
territorial  rule.  It  ran  from  Clinton,  through  Jack- 
son, Spicerville,  Eaton,  a  corner  of  Benton,  then 
Chester,  etc.    Most  of  it  has  long  since  been  closed. 

William  Quantrell  settled  here  in  May,  1841.  He 
had  been  a  brick  maker  and  finding  upon  his  land 
abundant  clay  of  good  quality  he,  at  once,  began 
brickmaking.  His  product  was  used  largely  in 
Charlotte  and  in  many  farm  dwellings. 

Moses  Fox  settled  here  in  1840,  and  Lorenzo 
Hatch  in  1842,  James  Taggart  about  the  same  time. 
He  became  well  known  for  his  rugged  worth  and 
was  eight  times  elected  supervisor. 

John  Higby  settled  here  October  14,  1841.  His 
sons  became  merchants  in  Charlotte  where  the  sons 
of  later  generations  still  remain,  honored  and 

Benjamin  Landers  was  an  early  settler  who  was 
six  times  elected  supervisor.     He  with  Hiram  Mc- 


Intyre  was  school  inspector  for  a  generation.  Estes 
Mclntyre,  a  brother,  became  a  wealthy  farmer  here. 
Morgan  Thomas  was  supervisor  from  1848- '50. 

Ira  Bailey,  "Fiddler  Bailey,"  "Rail  Bailey"  was 
an  early  character  here  of  whom  many  amusing- 
stories  are  told.  Long,  angular,  awkward;  he  re- 
quired an  immense  pair  of  boots  but  asked  to  buy 
them  very  cheap  as  he  wanted  to  pay  cash.  That 
was  a  rare  offer  for  those  days  but  he  was  finally 
fitted.  To  test  them  he  deliberately  walked  out  in 
mud  ankle  deep  and  returning  he  again  explained 
that  he  wanted  to  pay  cash  but  he  had  not  a  cent  in 
the  world.  A  tradition  remained  for  many  years 
that  he  never  paid  for  the  boots  but  the  amusement 
this  afforded  the  roisterers  paid  for  them  many 
times.  This  giant  could  run  like  the  wind.  Pitted 
against  the  assumed  fleetest  man  in  the  county  he 
easily  outran  him  and  then  said  he  could  outrun  him 
while  carrying  the  heaviest  rail  in  a  given  fence. 
This  too  he  did.  Another  version  is  that  he  car- 
ried the  heavy  rail  and  outran  a  horse  a  distance  of 
ten  rods,  Bailey  taking  a  running  start,  the  horse 
to  start  as  he  passed  him.  Like  the  settlers  in  Belle- 
vue  these  men  were  much  given  to  athletic  sports 
and  horse-play.  Merrils  Freeman  was  the  smallest 
man  in  town  and  men  of  giant  strength  like  Bailey 
and  Jim  Taggart  were  dumbfounded  when  Freeman 
could  easily  outlift  them. 

These  Jacksonian  democrats,  Higby,  Hovey,  Tag- 
gart, et.  al.,  would  name  their  town  for  "Old  Bui- 


lion",  United  States  Senator  Thomas  H.  Benton. 
It  was  organized  by  act  of  legislature,  March  9, 
1843,  and  named  Tom  Benton. 

When  Linus  Potter  arrived  and  settled  where  Pot- 
terville  now  is,  in  November,  1844,  he  said  he  should 
have  that  Tom  cut  off  and  so  he  did  at  once.  March 
19,  1845,  it  was  renamed  by  the  legislature,  Benton. 
The  following  year  Linus  Potter  was  elected  super- 
visor and  because  of  his  early  influence  and  the 
prominence  of  his  sons  in  later  years  he  deserves 
extended  notice.  The  object  of  this  history  is  to 
record  pioneer  experiences  and  his  were  interesting 
if  not  unique. 

Linus  Potter  came  from  Cayuga  County,  New 
York,  in  autumn  of  1830,  via.  Erie  canal,  then  very 
new  and  very  small,  and  by  boat  to  Detroit.  Their 
destination  at  that  time  was  Saline,  then  the  largest 
village  on  the  road  to  Chicago.  He  and  his  wife 
walked  this  entire  distance.  Their  son,  George  N., 
was  then  barely  three  years  old  and  their  daughter, 
Louisa  (afterward  the  wife  of  John  F.  Carman), 
was  a  babe  in  arms.  It  is  related  that  Mr.  Potter 
carried  all  their  worldly  goods  in  a  bundle  upon  his 
back.  This  he  carried  ahead  as  far  as  seemed  safe 
and  leaving  it  returned  for  the  wife  and  children. 
He  carried  George,  and  his  wife  the  babe,  to  the 
bundle  or  beyond  to  a  resting  place  upon  a  log  while 
he  again  carried  the  bundle,  thus  he  walked  the  en- 
tire distance  from  Detroit  to  Saline  three  times  over. 


He  tlien  built  in  Saline  the  first  frame  house  ever 
erected  there. 

T.  Edgar  Potter,  their  second  son,  was  born  in 
Saline,  March  10,  1832,  and  from  his  autobiography 
I  gather  the  following  facts.  Quoting,  "I  well  re- 
member when  the  Michigan  Central  Railroad  was 
finished  as  far  west  as  Ypsilanti.  My  father  was  in- 
vited to  the  celebration  there  and  took  me  with  him. 
We  witnessed  the  arrival  of  the  first  passenger  train 
from  Detroit  carrying  the  officers  of  the  road  and 
General  Cass  who  was  to  speak.  About  two  inches 
of  light  snow  had  fallen  and  we  saw  two  men  sitting 
on  opposite  ends  of  the  crossbar  with  large  splint 
brooms  with  which  they  swept  the  snow  from  the 
rails.  Such  was  the  snowplow  of  that  day.  My 
father,  who  was  a  surveyor,  had  just  returned  from 
a  surveying  trip  and  he  was  called  upon  for  a 
description  of  the  new  country.  On  reaching  home  I 
told  my  mother  I  had  seen  the  roasted  ox,  the  brass 
band,  a  railroad  train  and  had  heard  General  Cass 
and  my  father  make  speeches  to  the  people. 

''My  father  was  a  strong  whig  and  when,  in  the 
campaign  of  1840,  he  heard  that  General  Harrison 
was  to  speak  at  Fort  Meigs  in  Ohio,  seventy-five 
miles  from  us,  he  helped  get  up  a  party  of  sixty  men 
to  hear  him.  Their  wagon  was  equipped  with  a  flag 
staff,  the  stars  and  stripes,  two  live  coons  and  two 
barrels  of  cider.  They  returned  seven  days  later, 
all  except  the  cider. 

"By  January,  1845,  five  other  children  had  been 


added  to  our  family  and  we  were  on  our  way  to  the 
wilds  of  Eaton  County.  My  father  and  brother 
George  had  preceded  us  and,  cutting  their  road  four 
miles  beyond  the  last  inhabitant  at  Pray's,  had 
built  for  us  two  shanties  each  sixteen  by  twenty  and 
and  eight  foot  roofed  space  between  them.  Not  a 
nail  was  used  in  these  two  shanties  and  the  only  ex- 
pense for  them  was  for  two  windows  each  with  six, 
seven  by  nine,  panes  of  glass.  Though  I  was  not 
quite  thirteen  years  old  my  father  sent  me  ahead, 
one  day  in  advance,  with  our  live  stock,  three  cows, 
two  yearlings,  five  sheep  and  two  hogs.  My  father 
provided  a  rude  map  with  places  marked  where  I 
was  to  stop  over  night.  I  was  allowed  six  days  for 
the  trip  and  was  not  overtaken  until  the  fifth  day 
at  Eaton  Rapids.  We  had  twelve  miles  yet  to  go 
but  we  reached  our  shanty  before  night  and  met  a 
warm  welcome  by  George  who  had  been  left  there 
by  father  to  guard  the  place. 

''All  of  us  seven  children  had  measles  that  winter 
but  in  spite  of  our  hardships  we  managed  to  clear 
seven  acres  and  get  them  into  spring  crops.  When 
harvested  we  sowed  three  of  these  acres  to  wheat. 
During  the  following  winter  my  father  hauled  logs 
to  Eaton  Rapids  sawmill  and  gave  half  of  them  for 
sawing  the  remainder.  With  these  he  built  the  first 
frame  barn  near  there  and  my  sister  Louisa  taught, 
in  this  barn,  the  first  school  in  the  east  half  of  the 

' '  The  following  July  my  father  cut  the  three  acres 


of  wheat  with  a  sickle  and  I  bound  and  set  it  up. 
The  next  day  he  cut  an  acre  for  a  neighbor.  He  was 
overheated  and  drank  freely  of  water.  This  was  his 
last  day's  work.  July  26,  1846,  we  buried  him  in 
the  wheatfield  just  harvested.  My  mother  was  now 
a  widow  with  seven  children,  eighty  acres  of  land 
and  but  seven  of  it  cleared.  My  father  was  filling 
the  offices  of  justice  of  the  peace  and  supervisor  up 
to  the  time  of  his  death.  The  next  day  we  drew  our 
wheat,  threshed  ten  bushels  of  it  with  flails  and  I 
was  sent  to  Delta  to  mill  with  it.  I  slept  in  the  mill 
at  night  and  returned  the  next  day. 

"We  cleared  the  land  and  sowed  ten  acres  of 
wheat  that  fall  and  from  it  harvested  nearly  400 
bushels.  One  evening  that  same  fall  a  man  brought 
word  that  a  bear  w^as  killing  Mrs.  Jones'  hog  but 
two  miles  north  of  us  and  asked  that  we  boys  should 
go  with  our  guns  and  lanterns  while  he  went  further 
for  a  neighbor  who  had  bear  dogs.  We  reached  the 
farm  and  found  the  hog  with  a  broken  back  and 
from  the  barking  dogs  we  knew  the  bear  was  not 
far  away.  We  killed  the  hog,  shut  up  the  dogs  and 
then  drew  the  hog  onto  a  bridge  and  hid  ourselves 
in  a  deep  ravine  where  we  could  look  up  tow^ard  the 
sky  and  see  bruin  if  he  came  upon  the  bridge.  We 
had  not  long  to  wait.  My  brother  whispered,  ''Now, 
give  it  to  him."  We  both  fired  at  once.  The  bear 
gave  a  jump  and  landed  within  six  feet  of  us  and 
ran  into  a  brush-heap.  Soon  the  men  arrived  with 
the  bear  dogs.     These  were  let  loose  and  the  bear. 


wounded  so  he  could  not  run,  killed  one  and  another 
was  shot  by  a  man  trying  to  shoot  the  bear.  A  man 
then  approached  within  ten  feet  and  shot  the  bear 
in  the  head  killing  him.  We  sent  for  an  ox  team 
and  a  stoneboat  and  the  bear  was  drawn  to  our 
home.  The  next  day  a  feast  was  held  and  neighbors 
came  for  a  piece  of  the  largest  bear  ever  killed  in 
that  region.  He  weighed  over  400  pounds  and  it 
was  found  that  both  our  shots  had  pierced  him 
through.  He  had  been  a  great  scourge  for  many 
miles  around.  Pork  was  more  safely  grown  after 

''In  1847,  the  capitol  was  located  at  Lansing  and 
a  band  of  ten  surveyors  were  surveying  an  air  line 
road  from  Battle  Creek  to  Lansing.  They  stopped 
over  night  at  our  shanty,  mother  cooking  for  them. 
They  needed  another  man  and  offered  twenty-five 
cents  a  day  and  board.  I,  then  fifteen  years  old,  was 
taken  on.  The  fifth  day  we  reached  Lansing  and 
went  down  Washington  avenue,  which  had  simply 
been  underbrushed  and  that  day  we  assisted  in 
raising  the  old  capitol  which  was  raised  like  a  coun- 
try barn.  In  the  month  of  September  of  that  year 
I  made  another  journey  to  Lansing  under  different 
circumstances.  My  uncle,  C.  P.  Sprague,  and  his 
young  wife,  both  teachers,  came  to  Lansing.  There 
was  no  schoolhouse  nor  means  for  building  one. 
Five  families  in  Eaton  county,  his  relatives,  volun- 
teered to  build  him  one  and  present  it  to  him. 
Samuel  Preston,  John  Strange,  George  P.  Carman, 


W.  H.  Taylor  and  myself,  representing  my  mother's 
family,  with  axes  and  teams  met  in  Lansing  and  in 
ten  days  had  completed  a  two  story  schoolhouse  and 
residence.  There  my  Uncle  Cor.  and  wife  lived  and 
taught  the  first  school  in  Lansing. 

''In  the  spring  of  1848,  jobs  were  let  for  building 
the  State  road  to  Lansing  that  I  had  helped  to  sur- 
vey. I,  then  sixteen,  secured  a  contract  to  build 
eighty  rods  for  which  I  was  to  receive  $250  in  State 
script.  I  sold  $100  of  this  for  $20  and  with  the 
balance  located  120  acres  of  Michigan  land.  While 
building  this  and  resting  one  day  at  noon,  three  deer 
approached  and  ran,  as  I  thought,  into  a  clump  of 
brush.  I  fired  my  gun  in  the  direction  and  had  the 
misfortune  to  kill  my  mother's  only  cow.  The  beef 
was  saved  but  my  mother  and  seven  children  were 
without  milk  for  two  years  thereafter.  During  the 
winter  of  1848-49,  we  cut  twenty  acres  of  timber  and 
burned  most  of  it  to  ashes  for  black  salts  sold  to 
make  saleratus. 

''When  gold  was  discovered  in  California,  I  was 
seventeen  years  old  and  eager  to  go  but  mother  and 
George  thought  I  was  too  young  but  three  years 
later  they  assisted  me  in  raising  the  needed  money 
for  the  overland  journey." 

Such  the  early  story  of  Ed.  Potter  in  Eaton 


Let  US  for  a  moment  watcli  the  inspiring  career  of 
George  N.  Potter.  Left  at  eighteen  years  the  finan- 
cial head  of  his  mother's  large  family,  at  twenty  he 
had  preempted  forty  acres  for  himself,  slashed 
do^vn  the  timber,  burned  it  to  ashes  and  sold  black- 
salts  to  more  than  pay  for  it  all.  At  twenty-one 
married  and  living  in  his  own  neat  log  house.  At 
twenty-nine  he  was  elected  sheriff  of  the  county  and 
later  provost  marshal  and  finally  elected  to  a  seat  in 
the  State  Senate. 

In  1866,  he  brought  the  first  circular  sawmill  into 
the  county  at  a  cost  of  $3,300.  It  was  guaranteed  to 
cut  10,000  feet  a  day.  Neighbors  said  George  was 
a  fool  to  believe  it  as  the  best  mills  cut  but  3,000. 
The  first  day  it  ran  it  cut  10,600  and  the  second 
day  14,600.  In  ninety-one  days  it  had  paid  for  itself 
and  put  $600  in  George's  pocket,  and  lumber  upon 
the  farms  of  patrons  for  miles  around.  His  four 
younger  brothers,  then  in  Minnesota,  bought  a  port- 
able mill  and  the  rapid  acquirement  of  wealth  by  the 
Potter  family  had  begun.  With  the  portable  mill  a 
new  era  da^vned  upon  Benton  and  Eaton  County. 
Instead  of  the  land  encumbered  to  a  depth  of  a 
hundred  feet  with  rubbish  that  must  be  burned,  it 
was  found  that  the  first  crop  of  timber  was  worth 
many  times  more  than  any  succeeding  crop. 

Of  this  pioneer  family  of  seven  children,  the 
youngest,  James  W.,  is  the  only  survivor.  He  is 
the  donor  of  Potter  Park  to  the  City  of  Lansing. 


Previous  to  1836  there  had  been  no  government 
land  purchased  in  Brookfield  but  in  that  year  there 
were  forty-one  purchases.  Perhaps  the  younger 
generation  are  not  aware  that  more  land  in  Michigan 
was  purchased  in  1836  than  in  all  the  years  preced- 
ing and  for  many  years  thereafter.  The  reasons  for 
this  are  easily  found.  Detroit  had  been  settled  more 
than  a  century.  The  flat  lying  lands  for  thirty 
miles  back  of  it  were  under  water  part  of  the  year 
and  for  the  rest  of  the  time  seemed  bottomless  mud. 
Statements  had  been  published  far  and  wide  that 
there  was  scarcely  an  acre  in  Michigan  upon  w^hich 
a  horse  could  stand.  About  1830  a  few  settlers  had 
penetrated  to  the  rolling  lands  of  Oakland  and 
Washtenaw.  They  had  proved  the  fertility  of  the 
soil  and  had  sent  glowing  reports  back  to  their  east- 
ern friends.  From  the  abundance  of  money  (such 
as  it  was)  the  little  grain  or  pork  that  they  produced 
brought  almost  fabulous  prices.  These  glowing  re- 
ports bore  fruit  in  1836.  Immigration  was  at  flood 
tide.  Three  men  could  organize  and  call  themselves 
a  bank  and  could  issue  unlimited  floods  of  their 
notes.  Their  value  was  questioned  and  inspectors 
were  sent  to  investigate.  Kegs  of  silver  were  sent 
just  in  advance  of  the  inspectors.  They  found  and 
reported  abundance  of  silver  in  the  first  bank.  While 



they  were  eating  dinner  tlie  silver  was  sent  ahead  to 
the  next  bank  and  so  around.  In  1837  came  the  in- 
evitable collapse.  Banks  closed  and  their  managers 
disappeared.  ''Eed-dog"  and  ''wildcat"  currency- 
was  now  in  the  hands  of  the  pioneers  and  was  of  no 
value  whatever.  Of  real  money  there  was  none. 
Business  was  at  a  standstill.  No  one  could  meet  his 
promises  nor  purchase  necessities.  Immigration 
nearly  ceased. 

However  fertile  the  fields  of  Brookfield  of  today 
they  were  not  attractive  to  the  pioneers.  Narrow 
Lake  and  wider  swamps  separated  the  drier  por- 
tions by  impassable  barriers.  If  settlers  in  the 
east  came  in  through  Spicerville  and  in  the  west 
through  Bellevue  they  might  have  lived  for  years 
knowing  naught  of  the  presence  of  each  other. 

The  first  settlers  were  said  to  have  been  Peter 
Moe  and  his  sons,  Ezra  and  Henry,  and  John  Boody 
in  the  northeast  corner  in  1837.  Moetown  was  the 
name  given  this  corner.  Jesse  Hart  came  the  same 
year  to  the  northwest  corner.  Five  years  later  he 
became  the  first  supervisor.  He  relates  many  inter- 
esting experiences.  He  started  from  Summit 
County,  Ohio,  on  the  10th  of  October  with  two  yoke 
of  oxen  on  a  light  wagon.  Said  he  w^orked  hard 
eight  days  to  pass  thirty-two  miles  of  the  black 
swamp.  He  reached  the  end  of  all  roads  at  Joseph 
Bosworth's  on  the  6th  of  November  and  still  four 
miles  from  his  land.  He  left  his  bride  at  Bosworth's 
shanty  and  the  tv\^o  men  together  cut  a  path  to  his 


land  and  began  a  shanty  upon  it.  When  he  had 
half  the  roof  on  and  a  door  cut,  but  no  door  nor 
floor,  he  moved  in  with  his  new  wife.  He  wrote 
that,  "The  first  night  we  made  our  bed  on  some 
split  pieces  of  basswood  in  a  corner  of  the  shanty, 
built  a  fire  in  another  corner,  hung  up  a  blanket  for 
a  door  and  same  around  the  bed  and  it  seemed  quite 
like  home. ' ' 

They  lived  in  that  shanty  the  two  happiest  years 
of  their  lives  and  here  their  first  child  was  born, 
March  20,  1839.  The  following  fall  they  built  a  log 

Mr.  Hart,  so  near  the  swamp,  had  interesting 
stories  of  bear  killings  when  bruin  ventured  among 
his  hogs.  In  1842  he  built  the  first  frame  barn  in 
Brookfield  and  in  1851,  a  new  frame  house  out  on 
the  road  and  he  adds,  ''For  there  were  roads  laid 
out  then." 

In  the  meantime  Moetown  received  acquisitions 
of  J.  S.  Moe,  J.  Otely,  and  J.  E.  Fisher.  S.  S.  Bly, 
C.  Kintner,  E.  P.  Stewart  and  Amos  Carrier  were 
early  settlers. 

I  quote  as  follows  from  J.  C.  Sherman  as  pub- 
lished in  The  Charlotte  Republican  in  1869: 

' '  In  the  year  1839  Charles  R.  Sherman  moved  into 
the  town  and  settled  on  the  eastern  bank  of  Battle 
Creek.  He  got  his  goods  as  far  as  John  Boody's 
as  there  was  a  passable  road  from  Jackson  that 
far,  but  further  there  was  none.  He  got  Mr.  Boody 
and  his  boys  to  take  his  ox  sled,  load  on  a  few  goods 


and  draw  them  down  to  the  swamp ;  then  they  had 
to  unyoke  the  oxen,  draw  the  sled  over  by  hand,  and 
drive  the  oxen  a  long  way  up  the  swamp  until  they 
could  find  a  fording  place,  wallow  them  through,  and 
go  down  the  other  side  to  where  the  sled  was. 
They  were  then  ready  to  yoke  up  the  oxen  and 
start  again  on  their  journey,  clearing  a  road  as  they 
went.  Drawing  the  balance  of  the  things  across 
the  swamp  on  a  hand  sled  and  then  two  miles  further 
with  a  team,  he  finally  got  settled,  the  big  swamp 
on  one  side  and  the  creek  on  the  other.  The  nearest 
gristmill  or  store  was  at  Eaton  Rapids  and  he  could 
only  get  there  in  winter,  when  the  swamp  was  frozen 
over. ' ' 

Peter  Williams  came  in  1841  and  claimed  the 
honor  of  having  the  first  temperance  raising  in 
town  and  also  the  first  shingle  roof  although  it  was 
but  a  log  house. 

As  in  every  township  most  of  the  early  purchasers 
were  speculators  who  never  settled  here  but  of  the 
forty-one  who  purchased  land  here  in  1836,  seven 
became  settlers:  J.  Boody,  P.  Moe,  H.  Moe,  B. 
Knight,  C.  Kenter,  J.  P.  Woodbury  and  H.  C.  Whit- 
tum.  The  last  of  these  when  twenty-two  years  of 
age,  was  living  at  Phelps,  New  York.  He  earned 
$250  quarrying  lime-stone  with  pickaxe  and  wheel- 
barrow; with  this  money  he  started  to  locate  a 
future  home  in  the  wilds  of  Michigan.  Taking 
canal  boat  to  Buffalo,  he  there  boarded  a  lake  boat 
for  Toledo  and  walked  through  the  woods  to  Brook- 


field  township  where  he  located  a  quarter  of  section 
10  and  then  walked  to  the  land  office  at  Ionia  which 
he  found  closed  for  two  weeks  and  the  agent  away 
on  a  vacation.  He  and  another  young  man,  who  was 
on  the  same  errand,  took  a  job  freighting  twenty-five 
barrels  of  flour  to  Grand  Rapids.  They  felled  the 
trees  and  built  a  raft  for  the  purpose,  loaded  the 
flour  and  "polled"  it  down  the  river  to  their  destina- 
tion and  walked  back  to  Ionia  and  succeeded  in 
making  the  entry.  He  then  walked  back  to  Toledo 
and  took  the  boat  for  his  return  home.  The  patent 
for  this  land  which  still  remains  in  the  family,  was 
signed  by  Martin  Van  Buren,  November  2,  1837, 
and  is  still  in  a  good  state  of  preservation.  Mr. 
Whittum  did  not  return  to  settle  here  until  twenty- 
five  years  later  when  he  brought  his  wife  and  eight 
children,  four  of  whom  are  still  living  (1923)  one 
of  them  the  wife  of  J.  Sumner  Hamlin  of  Eaton 

The  first  schoolhouse  in  town  was  built  of  logs 
and  near  the  residence  of  Nicholas  Boody.  For  a 
number  of  years  this  was  the  only  public  building 
in  town  and  was  used  for  town  meetings,  etc.  The 
first  school  in  town  was  taught  by  Roxana  Skinner 
in  1841.  The  first  marriage  in  town  was  B.  B. 
Snyder  to  Sarah  Moe. 

Mr.  Sherman  gives  a  very  amusing  account  of 
the  marriage  of  one  Wickwire  to  Margaret  Boody. 
The  groom  thought  he  had  no  suitable  clothes  for 
the  ceremony.    He  tried  to  borrow  but  the  best  of- 


fered  were  dilapidated  shoes  and  a  worn  chip  hat. 
He  said  he  thought  it  a  d — d  poor  town  where  a 
man  could  not  borrow  clothes  to  get  married  in. 
Esquire  Rose  was  asked  to  perform  the  ceremony. 
At  first  he  declined  because  of  inexperience,  but 
his  wife,  anxious  that  he  should  make  his  official 
mark,  urged  him  to  attempt  the  task.  He  prepared  a 
fitting  ceremony  in  mind  but,  case  in  hand,  it  fled 
his  memory  utterly.  He  turned  red,  then  pale,  stam- 
mered and  finally  told  the  groom  he  must  get  some- 
one else  as  he  could  not  go  on.  The  plighted  couple 
could  not  consent  to  this.  They  arranged  a  cere- 
mony and  the  groom  lined  it  for  the  justice  who 
repeated  it  line  by  line  successfully.  The  bride  was 
so  overjoyed  at  this  happy  turn  in  affairs  that  she 
threw  her  arms  about  the  affrighted  justice  and 
gave  him  a  rousing  smack  for  doing  it  so  nicely. 

Another  good  justice  story  is  that  of  John  Boody. 
Austin  Blair,  the  future  war  Governor  of  Michigan, 
was  engaged  to  defend  a  prisoner  before  him. 
Papers  were  illegally  drawn  and  Blair  demanded 
the  prisoner's  release.  Boody  dissented.  Blair 
then  told  the  prisoner  he  could  go  as  those  papers 
could  not  hold  him.  **Vot  ish  dat?"  shouted  the 
'Squire,  "You  tell  dat  prisoner  he  can  go!  Py  tam, 
Mr.  Blair,  you  let  dat  prisoner  go  and  I  sends  a 
bench  warrant  for  him  and  you  too,  so  sure  as  Got. ' ' 

Four  of  John  Boody 's  little  children,  two  boys 
and  two  girls,  were  hunting  leeks  and  became  lost  in 
the  woods  in  the  spring  of  1840.    When  night  came 


they  crept  into  a  hollow  log  and  remained  there  the 
entire  next  day  as  it  was  snowing  fast.  Neighbors 
searched  in  vain  and  finally  built  numerous  fires  at 
night  thinking  they  might  attract  the  children.  Sure 
enough,  on  the  morning  of  the  third  day,  the  chil- 
dren were  found  by  one  of  the  fires  where  they  had 
spent  the  night. 

Surrounded  by  swamps  the  settlers  of  Brookfield 
suffered  much  from  depredations  of  bears  and 
wolves.  They  had  exciting  experiences  in  extermi- 
nating these  pests  but  space  forbids  their  repeti- 

The  township  was  organized  by  act  of  the  legis- 
lature approved  March  20,  1841,  and  in  1842  town- 
ship records  relate  it  was  ''Resolved  that  geese, 
hens,  hogs  (with  the  exception  of  boars),  be  free 
cominers,  waying  over  forty  weight  for  the  year 

By  the  State  census  of  1844  there  were  thirty- 
three  taxpayers  in  town.  If  their  taxes  were  small, 
the  numbers  paying  taxes  approached  those  in  more 
favored  towns. 

Jesse  Hart  was  eleven  times  elected  supervisor, 
alternating  with  G.  W.  Knight  and  Pardon  H. 
Fisher.  In  1879  and  '80,  our  own  George  A.  Perry, 
for  so  many  years  the  very  efficient  Secretary  of 
our  Pioneer  Society,  was  elected  supervisor  of 
Brookfield  township. 


The  last  township  in  the  county,  save  one,  to  re- 
ceive permanent  settlers  was  Windsor,  not  because 
of  unattractive  land  as  is  shown  by  the  fact  that 
there  were  sixty-three  purchases  here  in  the  year 
1836,  but  due  rather  to  its  remoteness  from  the  earl- 
ier settlements.  One  historian  relates  that  the  early 
pioneers  of  Windsor  seemed  to  have  greater  hard- 
ships in  their  battle  with  the  wilderness  than  the 
inhabitants  of  any  other  township  in  the  county.  I 
think  this  cannot  hold  true.  While  they  had  some 
perilous  incidents  I  would  award  the  palm  for  hard- 
ships to  those  who  settled  the  swamps  of  Brookfield 
or  the  remote  forests  of  Delta.  Even  this  historian 
when  he  began  to  tell  of  the  hardships  of  Windsor 
told  them  of  Delta  settlers  and  his  story  ran  as  fol- 
lows: In  November,  1836,  before  Windsor  had  a 
settler  within  its  limits,  a  Mr.  Lewis  and  Mr.  Bill- 
ings started  to  cross  the  township  on  their  way  to 
Ingersoll's  on  Grand  River.  They  had  a  train  of 
two  wagons  drawn  by  two  yoke  of  oxen  and  fol- 
lowed by  two  cows.  They  reached  the  ''Old  Maid's 
Swamp ' '  which  centered  near  where  the  four  towns 
of  Oneida,  Delta,  Windsor  and  Benton  corner  to- 
gether. Here  they  became  lost  and  Mr.  Billings 
left  them  to  search  for  help.  He  was  gone  two  days 
without  success.    He  started  again  and  on  the  sec- 



ond  day  he  heard  a  cowbell  which  led  him  to  Inger- 
solPs.  A  party  started  to  rescue  the  bewildered 
ones  and  after  several  days  rescued  them.  Their 
hardships  were  such  that  Mrs.  Lewis  died  soon 
afterward.  Her  daughter  prepared  her  for  burial. 
A  wagon  box  was  cut  up  for  a  coffin  and  Mr.  Bur- 
nett (afterward  of  Windsor)  dug  her  grave. 

When  one  man  cuts  his  path  through  miles  of 
trackless  forest  and  there  erects  his  shanty  with 
no  neighbors  for  miles  around  and  others  follow  his 
trail  but  a  few  weeks  later  the  first  is  entitled  to  all 
credit  as  a  ''first  settler."  But  when  two  or  three 
parties  come  in  from  different  directions,  each  cut- 
ting his  own  trail  and  each  believing  he  has  no 
neighbors  but  wild  Indians,  all  are  entitled  to  like 
credit  as  pioneers.  The  first  settlers  in  Windsor 
were  Orange  Towslee  and  Nathan  Pray,  coming  by 
different  routes,  both  settled  there  in  October,  1837, 
Towslee  upon  the  first  day  of  the  month  coming  by 
way  of  Delta,  following  the  Billings  trail,  then  cut- 
ting new  road  three  miles.  For  six  weeks  his  fam- 
ily lived  in  a  tent  while  a  house  was  building.  He 
started  one  Friday  morning  for  Spicerville  to  pur- 
chase lumber  for  his  house.  He  found  no  one  at 
home  and  started  back,  losing  his  way  he  wandered 
in  the  woods  until  Monday,  arriving  home  he  was 
so  nearly  worn  out  that  his  family  were  frightened 
at  sight  of  him.  In  November  he  was  on  his  way 
home  from  Delta,  night  coming  on  he  was  again  lost 
and  stumbled  into  a  creek  up  to  his  arms.    Wolves 


were  howling  all  around  and  thinking  himself  safer 
there  he  remained  standing  in  that  water  all  that 
cold  November  night.  When  he  reached  home  the 
next  morning  his  voice  failed  to  produce  a  sound. 
Some  hardship !  Yes,  that  will  pass  with  the  worst 
of  them. 

Nathan  H.  Pray  was  married  in  the  spring  of 
1837  in  Washtenaw  County  and  in  the  following- 
October  he  moved  into  Windsor  with  his  bride  of 
eighteen  years  coming  by  way  of  Jackson,  Spicer- 
ville  and  Wall  Settlement.  From  Wall's  he  cut  his 
road  to  Boody's  place  in  Eaton  Rapids.  Although 
Mr.  Pray's  land  lay  three  miles  beyond,  across  a 
swamp  impassable  by  team,  he  unloaded  his  goods 
at  Boody's  shanty  and  the  team  returned.  With 
aid  of  a  hired  man  he  built  a  shanty  on  his  place 
and  drew  his  household  goods  there  on  a  hand-sled. 
On  the  ninth  of  March,  1838,  their  son  Esek  was 
born,  the  first  'Svhite"  child  born  in  the  township. 
While  hunting  his  cows  in  the  woods  Mr.  Pray  be- 
came lost  and  *' whooped"  until  his  hired  men  came 
to  his  rescue.  They  laughed  heartily  at  his  getting 
lost  but  their  laughter  soon  turned  when  they 
learned  they  were  all  lost  and  remained  in  the  woods 
until  the  morrow. 

In  this  same  October,  1837,  Oramel  D.,  John  D., 
and  W.  P.  Skinner  arrived  in  Windsor  and  built  a 
house  and  afterward  cut  a  road  to  Spicerville  but, 
by  the  logic  of  the  pioneers,  they  were  not  "settled" 
as  their  families  did  not  come  until  the  following 


spring.  None  of  these  three  parties  knew  of  the 
presence  of  another  but  supposed  themselves  to  be 
the  only  settlers  in  the  town. 

In  the  fall  of  1837,  three  single  men,  Samuel 
Munn,  Charles  Wright  and  Andy  Mills,  arrived  and 
took  up  abode  with  Mr.  Towslee.  In  the  spring  of 
1838,  T.  C.  Cogswell  arrived,  following  the  trail  cut 
by  Mr.  Pray  but  his  land  was  three  miles  further  in 
and  to  this  he  cut  his  road. 

Mr.  A.  Torrey  with  a  large  family  reached  here 
in  the  spring  of  1839.  John  Courter  settled  in  the 
spring  of  1839.  Kobert  McRedfield  settled  here  in 

John  D.  Skinner  returned  with  his  wife  in  March, 
1838,  but  as  the  sleighing  was  poor  he  drove  from 
Eaton  Rapids  upon  the  ice  in  the  river.  This  was 
rotten  and  he  had  many  hair  breadth  escapes,  and 
avoided  the  river  ever  after.  Charles  Hinckley  and 
Albert  McKinley,  returning  from  town  meeting  in 
the  evening  found  the  ice  so  rotten  they  crossed  by 
each  taking  three  poles  and  keeping  upon  two, 
pushed  one  ahead  at  a  time.  McKinley  finally  broke 
through  and  was  badly  wetted  and  worse  frightened. 

Mr.  Courter  moved  in  from  Delta  assisted  by  Mr. 
Tow^slee  when  the  water  was  high.  Coming  to  a 
swollen  creek  he  asked  Mrs.  Courter  how  she  could 
cross  as  the  water  was  mid-side  to  his  oxen.  She 
asked,  ''How  did  you  cross  this  morning?"  He 
replied,  '*I  rode  an  ox."    Then  she  said,  ''I,  too. 


shall  ride  an  ox,"  and  so  she  did  but  said  it  was  a 
difficult  matter  to  keep  her  feet  above  water. 

Many  interesting  stories  of  bear  killings  were  re- 
called but  wolf  bowlings  were  so  constant  by  night 
as  to  excite  but  little  attention. 

Seed  wheat  cost  two  dollars  a  bushel  but  the  crop 
grown  brought  but  thirty  cents. 

George  P.  Carman  from  Cayuga  County,  New 
York,  settled  in  Eaton  County  with  his  wife  and 
son,  H.  Matson*  (then  three  years  old),  in  1844,  but 
first  built  in  Benton  near  the  east  line.  As  soon 
as  the  State  road  was  laid  from  Charlotte  to  Lan- 
sing he  built  the  first  house  upon  this  road  and  for 
some  time  it  was  the  only  occupied  house  between 
these  two  terminals.  The  first  mail  over  this  road 
was  in  1849  and  Mr.  Carman  kept  the  postoffice  in 
his  house  for  seven  years  and  after  a  brief  period 
for  seven  more.  For  a  time  the  mail  was  carried 
three  times  a  week  upon  the  back  of  a  mule  but  later 
a  daily  stage  carried  the  mail.  Mr.  Carman  was 
six  times  elected  supervisor. 

In  1850,  Isaac  H.  Dimond  began  damming  Grand 
River  and  building  a  mill.  His  dam  was  partially 
destroyed  several  times  and  both  the  saw  mill  and 
the  grist  mill  were  at  times  partially  undermined. 
The  grist  mill  was  not  built  until  1856,  and  at  that 
time  he  platted  a  village  and  named  it  Dimondale. 
The  mills  were  later  acquired  bv  A.  C.  Bruin  and 

^See  page  164. 


later  still  by  E.  W.  Hunt  who  finally  built  a  larger 
grist  mill  which  proved  more  successful. 

Children  were  often  lost  in  the  wilds  and  swamps 
of  Windsor  as  well  as  in  other  townships.  Neigh- 
bors for  many  miles  around  would  join  in  the 
search.  A  noted  case  that  excited  the  whole  county 
was  that  of  a  small  child  of  Charles  Wright  of 
Windsor.  The  child  became  lost  while  on  his  way 
from  school.  Two  published  accounts,  differing 
somewhat  in  detail,  are  before  me.  One  says  he 
was  five,  the  other  that  he  was  six  years  old.  Both 
agree  that  two  hundred  fifty  men  from  several 
townships  joined  in  the  search.  One  says  at  dusk 
of  the  third  day,  the  other  says  after  five  full  days' 
search,  the  child  was  found  alive  but  badly  frozen. 
The  toes  of  one  foot  were  entirely  lost  with  partial 
loss  of  the  others.  They  had  previously  found  his 
cap  two  miles  from  the  schoolhouse  and  found  nests 
where  he  had  slept.  He  was  found  in  the  midst  of  a 
willow  swamp  and  by  T.  E.  Potter  of  Benton. 

Freezings  were  not  common  when  sheltered  by 
forests  from  the  biting  winds  but  the  ''cold  New 
Year's"  of  1864  brought  frost  bites  to  many  and 
death  to  some.  A  grown  son  of  Robert  McRedfield 
lost  all  his  toes  from  freezing  on  that  day. 

At  that  time  I  was  teaching  the  school  in  the  Pray 
district.  On  New  Year's  morn  I  started  to  walk 
to  my  home  fifteen  miles  away.  I  walked  three 
miles  to  Uncle  George  Carman's  in  comfort,  while 
in  the  lee  of  the  forest,  but  upon  reaching  the  open 


field  I  froze  both  hands  and  face  but  not  seriously 
although  the  piercing  wind  was  a  gale  or  hurricane. 
I  spent  the  day  at  Uncle  George's  and  there  saw 
what  he  said  he  had  heard  of  but  never  believed — 
icicles  forming  in  the  open  fireplace.  The  explana- 
tion is  simple.  We  would  bring  in  sticks  of  green 
wood  at  a  temperature  twenty-five  below  zero  and 
partially  covered  with  snow.  Exposed  to  the  flames 
the  snow  soon  melted  but  running  over  sticks  at  this 
temperature  it  froze  at  once  into  icicles  to  again 
thaw  out  somewhat  later.  If  any  doubt  this,  try  it 
yourself  in  a  log  house  with  open  fireplace  with 
green  fuel  on  a  similar  day. 

The  Township  of  Windsor  was  organized  on  the 
same  day  as  three  other  townships  in  the  county, 
Delta,  Eaton  Eapids  and  Sunfield,  March  16,  1842, 
and  these  were  the  last  ones  organized  except  Benton 
and  Roxand  the  following  year. 

John  D.  Skinner  was  the  first  supervisor  and  was 
six  times  elected  to  this  office  as  was  George  P.  Car- 
man and  Edmund  Lewis.  W.  H.  Taylor  held  the 
office  two  terms.  Nathan  H,  Pray  was  supervisor 
in  1847,  and  twenty-two  years  later  his  son  Esek 
attained  the  office  and  held  it  ten  consecutive  years 
and  only  retired  to  become  county  treasurer.  Esek 
Pray's  sons  are  now  prominent  in  the  county  and 
well  known  throughout  the  State  as  are  the  other 
grandsons  of  Nathan  H.  Pray. 

At  my  last  visit  with  Esek  Pray,  a  short  time  be- 
fore his  demise,  he  related  the  following  incident 


^  illustrating  the  practice  of  early  postmasters  and 
the  vicissitudes  of  pioneer  life.  A  near  neighbor 
came  to  my  father  and  said  to  him,  *'Mr.  Preston 
has  sent  me  word  there  is  a  letter  in  the  office  for  me 
and  twenty-five  cents  postage  due  on  it.  I  haven't 
got  twenty-five  cents  and  I  don't  know  who  in  this 
country  has  it  unless  you  have  it,  Mr.  Pray.  If  you 
have  it  I  will  gladly  cradle  a  full  day  in  harvest 
field  for  it."  The  offer  was  accepted.  He  worked 
faithfully  from  sunrise  until  sunset,  received  the 
twenty-five  cents  and  next  day  walked  the  sixteen 
miles  to  the  postoffice,  secured  the  letter  and  walked 
the  sixteen  miles  back  to  his  home  for  his  wife  to 
read  the  letter  to  him. 

A  Golden  "Wedding. 

(Written   for   the   Golden   Wedding   of   Hiram    Matson   Carman 
and  iMary   (iSQi'otiwell)   Carman,  March  8,  1905.) 

This  golden  day  impresses  me  as  others  have  not  done. 
We've  met  before  to  greet  old  age.    This  time  we  greet  our  own. 
E'en  Uncle  John,  twelve  years  ago,  could  tell  of  courting  days 
With  yoke  of  steers  on  long  ox  sled,  and  all  those  early  ways. 
But  Mat  was  wed  in  modern  times.  (To  me  it  seems  that  way.) 
This  golden  day  impresses  me,  we're  growing  old  today. 
In  early  life  we  caught  a  glimpse,  and  now  I  ^ive  it  voice, 
Of  simple  life  our  fathers  led  ere  Mat  and  I  were  boys. 

When  Mat  and  I  were  little  boys,  how  long  ago  it  seems; 

The  wondrous  changes  time  has  wrought  seem  like  our  mystic 

There  were  no  telephones  at  all  and  scarce  a  telegraph. 
And  if  one  told  of  railroad  cars  old  men  would  simply  laugh. 
They  had  no  carpets  on  their  floors  nor  any  cooking  stoves; 
They  cooked  around  an  open  fire  and  turned  the  baking  loaves. 
When  Mat  and  I  were  boys. 

The  schoolhouse  was  a  small  log  room  with  desks  against  the 

And    here    they    held    their    Sunday    school,    prayer    meetings, 

church  and  all, 
And    our   great   farms   were   forests   then   with    clearings    very 

small ; 
The  roads  were  merely  winding  paths,  sometimes  no  path  at  all. 
Charlotte  was  a  prairie  wild;   at  Lansing  all  was  woods; 
They  drove  ox  teams  to  Jackson  then,  to  trade  their  eggs  for 


When  Mat  and  I  were  boys. 

We've  lived  the  long  allotted  life  the  scriptures  give  to  men; 
A  hurried  life  or  worried  life  of  three  score  years  and  ten. 
Our  childhood  knew  none  of  the  toys  that  childhood  now  enjoys; 
No  picture  slides  nor  auto  glides  when  Mat  and  I  were  boys. 
But  childhood  had  its  pleasures  then  as  really  true  as  ours, 
We  waded  brooks  and  climbed  the  trees  and  gathered  wild-wood 

A  yoke  of  calves,  tame  deer  and  lamb  and  pup  obeyed  each  whim, 
Mat  had  more  joy  than  he  could  tell  if  Mary  smiled  at  him, 
When  Mat  and  I  were  boys. 



The  twin  Townships  of  Eaton  and  Carmel, 
though  bound  like  the  Siamese  twins  by  the  liga- 
ment of  Charlotte,  are,  by  my  simple  system  of 
treating  the  townships  in  the  order  of  their  earliest 
settlement,  brought  a  long  way  apart.  The  earliest 
settlement  in  the  county,  outside  of  Bellevue,  was  by 
Samuel  and  Jonathan  Searls,  at  the  southeast  cor- 
ner of  Charlotte  prairie  in  October,  1835.  The  latest 
township  of  all  to  acquire  a  first  settler  was  Carmel. 
Still  in  point  of  actual  time  they  were  not  so  far 
severed — almost  exactly  two  years  apart.  Still  in 
that  eventful  two  years  each  of  the  other  towns  had 
acquired  its  first  inhabitant — eight  of  them  in  1836 
and  six  in  1837. 

Carmel,  the  latest  of  them,  was  not  unattractive 
to  pioneers  or  speculators  as  is  witnessed  by  the 
fact  that  purchases  from  the  government  were  made 
here  in  1832,  '33,  '34,  eight  purchases  in  '35  and 
thirty-nine  in  1836. 

Who  was  the  first  settler?  And  again  we  meet 
that  ever  recurring  problem,  when  is  an  unsettled 
man  settled.  The  first  to  begin  improvements  in 
Carmel  was  Piatt  Morey  in  autumn,  1837,  but,  un- 
fortunately, he  was  a  single  man  and  by  pioneer's 
logic  he  could  by  no  possibility  be  ** settled"  until 
married.     This  happy  event   occurred  two  years 



later  wlien  lie  married  a  niece  of  Bezaleel  Taft,  an 
early  pioneer  of  Vermontville.  The  first  to  settle 
with  his  family  was  Nathan  Brooks  who  also  became 
the  first  supervisor  of  Carmel.  William  Webster 
was  an  early  settler  but  was  accidentally  killed  soon 
after.  Robert  Dunn  was  an  early  settler  and  out- 
lived nearly  all  others. 

The  venerable  John  E.  Ells,  a  soldier  of  1812,  and 
his  son,  Almon  C.  Ells,  were  early  settlers  here. 
They  became  respectively  the  grandfather  and  the 
father  of  Frank  A.  Ells,  the  highly  esteemed  and 
efficient  editor  of  The  Charlotte  Leader. 

William  Johnson,  distinguished  as  Blacksmith 
Johnson,  married  a  sister  of  A.  C  Ells  and  resided 
in  turn  in  Charlotte  and  in  Carmel. 

The  history  of  Carmel  is  closely  bound  up  with 
that  of  Charlotte,  many  settlers  having  resided  in 
both.  H.  H.  Gale  and  his  brother-in-law,  R.  T. 
Cushing,  were  early  residents  in  Carmel.  Town 
meetings  were  held  in  Charlotte. 

Alvan  D.  Shaw,  afterward  very  prominent  in 
Eaton  County,  was  an  early  resident  of  Carmel  and 
left  recorded  some  amusing  incidents.  He  settled  in 
Carmel  February  20,  1840,  and  I  copy  his  state- 

''When  the  day  of  annual  town  meeting  came  we 
thought  we  ought  to  attend.  Early  in  the  morning 
we  all  started  for  what  was  then  called  Hyde's  Mills 
in  Kalamo.  "When  we  got  there  we  were  told  that 
we  did  not  belong  with  them  at  all;  that  our  town 


had  been  set  off  and  organized  by  itself.  We  were 
then  in  a  dilemma.  We  did  not  know  the  name  of 
our  town  nor  the  place  of  meeting.  We  knew  that 
Daniel  Barber  of  Vermontville  was  our  represen- 
tative in  the  legislature.  We  clubbed  together  and 
raised  a  dollar  and  hired  a  boy  to  go  to  Vermontville 
and  see  Mr.  Barber.  Anxious  for  the  dollar  the  boy 
pulled  off  his  hat,  coat,  shoes  and  stockings.  With 
head  up  he  ran  through  the  woods  and  in  two  hours 
returned  with  a  line  from  Mr.  Barber  stating  our 
township  had  been  organized  and  named  Carmel 
and  told  the  place  of  meeting.  We  returned  to  the 
designated  house  and  found  it  to  be  a  low  shanty 
covered  with  split  hollow  logs.  I  had  to  take  the 
taller  side  of  the  shanty  in  order  to  stand  erect. 
We  then  made  a  ballot  box,  prepared  our  ballots, 
and  organized  the  board.  Between  two  and  three 
o'clock  we  began  voting.  Every  elector  in  town 
voted — eighteen  in  all.  We  closed  the  polls,  counted 
the  votes  and  made  report  as  required  by  statute 
and  reached  home  late  in  the  evening. ' ' 

Mr.  Shaw  was  afterward  county  commissioner 
several  times,  township  supervisor  and  in  1844-45 
county  clerk. 

Other  early  residents  were  Henry  J.  Robinson, 
A.  B.  Waterman,  James  Mann,  John  Jessup,  Harvey 
Williams,  M.  E.  Andrews,  James  Foster,  Thomas 
Cooper,  H.  Whitehouse,  J.  P.  Herrick,  H.  M.  Mun- 
son,  J.  E.  Sweet,  Eli  Spencer,  A.  C.  H.  Maxon,  Abel 
P.  Case. 


In  1844  there  were  forty-one  resident  taxpayers. 

Early  records  of  the  township  have  been  lost  but 
after  1845,  E.  T.  Gushing,  A.  D.  Shaw,  A.  C.  Ells 
and  T.  D.  Green  alternated  as  supervisors. 

Families  living  in  the  east  part  sent  their  chil- 
dren to  Charlotte  to  school  but  about  1841,  five  or 
six  families  living  near  the  center  organized  district 
No.  1. 
/  The  modes  of  life  and  labor  of  the  pioneers  were 
much  the  same  as  that  of  their  ancestors  for  many 
generations.  The  same  tallow  candles  by  night  and 
the  same  homespun  clothes  by  day.  The  inventions 
of  the  nineteenth  century,  more  than  the  develop- 
men  of  the  county  displaced  all  their  modes  and 

Cook  stoves  were  entirely  unknown  to  the  early 
settlers  in  Eaton  County.  Their  introduction  revo- 
lutionized their  culinary  practices.  Sewing  ma- 
chines came  during  the  Civil  War  and  wrought  a 
revolution  in  ''the  other  room,"  for  shanties  had 
then  passed  and  the  log  house  had  two  or  three 
rooms  besides  the  sleeping  loft. 

Railroads  came  into  the  county  at  this  time  and 
brought  manufactured  products  from  distant  cities. 
The  spinning  wdieel  and  the  flax  wheel  were  rele- 
gated to  the  garret  and  looms  banished  from  our 
homes.  The  local  blacksmith  no  longer  made  our 
hoes,  forks  and  axes  while  farmers  made  their 
handles.     Cast  plows  had  been  purchased  in  the 


rougli  but  farmers  made  and  fitted  beams  and 

The  decade  of  the  Civil  War  brought  more  changes 
to  our  homes  and  farms  and  their  management  than 
any  other  decade,  perhaps  than  any  other  half  cen- 
tury. The  portable  mill  with  its  circle  saw  revolu- 
tionized our  practice  with  our  forests.  Farmers  no 
longer  made  with  tedious  labor  their  rakes,  scythe- 
snaths  and  cradles.  Neither  are  they  making  their 
own  bedsteads,  tables  and  chairs.  Railroads  brought 
these  from  distant  cities.  They  also  brought  mow- 
ers, reapers,  drills  for  sowing,  and  planting  ma- 
chines, thus  liberating  half  of  the  farmers'  sons  to 
go  to  the  cities  to  produce,  with  the  aid  of  steam,  the 
thousand  comforts  we  never  had  before. 

Rough  shoes  are  no  longer  made  by  our  fireside, 
but  elegant  attire  is  made  by  machines  at  one  hun- 
dredth part  the  labor  cost  but  at  perhaps  twenty 
times  the  cash  price.  Nine  days  to  go  to  mill  has 
now  become  as  many  minutes.  Twenty-five  cents 
postage  and  a  day's  walk  to  post  a  letter  which 
might  require  four  weeks  to  reach  its  destination 
now  requires  even  fewer  seconds  by  wireless. 

Long  live  the  memory  of  the  pioneers,  their  hard- 
ships and  privations  in  paving  the  way  for  our  lux- 
urious living,  but  let  us  not  forget  their  hopeful 
content  and  happiness.  One  venerable  lady  assured 
me  they  had  no  hardships.  They  always  had  plenty 
of  vegetables,  abundant  fresh  meat  was  procured 
at  any  time  within  an  hour,  abundance  of  cranberries 


and  huckleberries  were  here  before  us.  Indians 
brought  them  to  our  door  to  exchange  for  potatoes. 
A  little  later  there  were  plenty  of  blackberries  and 
raspberries.  Of  course  canning  was  unknown  but 
we  always  had  abundance  of  them  dried.  Hard- 
ships, she  had  known  none.  But  a  little  later  she 
recalled  that  she  once  rode  on  an  ox  sled  in  summer 
time,  upon  the  leaves  and  mud,  fifty  miles  to  mill 
and  to  exchange  eighteen  pounds  of  butter  for  six 
of  cheapest  tumblers  ever  made  that  she  might  not 
be  compelled  to  offer  a  drink  of  water  to  a  stranger 
in  a  teacup.  She  recalled  too,  that  when  married  in 
October  she  had  but  two  pounds  of  butter  but,  as 
they  had  a  fat  pig  and  would  soon  have  lard,  she  de- 
termined that  butter  should  last  them  until  the  ^ '  cow 
came  in  next  spring."  No  hardships!  No,  indeed,  . 
but  let  us  revere  their  happy  spirit  of  content !       / 

In  my  graduating  essay  in  1867,  I  paid  some 
tribute  to  the  progress  of  the  nineteenth  century — 
greater  progress  in  material  things  and  in  scientific 
research  than  in  all  the  preceding  centuries.  I 
questioned  whether  we  had  not  nearly  reached  the 
limit  of  possible  advancement. 

I  lived  to  see  greater  progress  in  the  remaining 
one-third  of  the  century  than  in  all  that  preceded. 

I  once  knew  the  exact  number  of  the  chemical 
elements,  sixty-one,  and  there  could  be  no  more.  A 
score  have  since  been  discovered  and  now  we  know 
not  that  there  are  any  elements.  The  science  that  I 
learned  was  but  a  figment  of  the  fancy.     Medical 


books  of  ten  years  ago  are  but  a  mass  of  errors. 
Science  is  revolutionized. 

We  liave  now  seen  but  a  score  of  years  of  the 
twentietli  century  but  in  discovery  of  means  of 
destruction,  in  methods  of  production  and  in  scien- 
tific research  we  have  gone  further  than  in  any  pre- 
ceding century.  The  possible  attainments  and 
achievements  of  even  the  next  ten  years  are  beyond 
the  conception  of  man. 


An   Addeess 
To  John  Strange  and  Other  Pioneers  of  Oneida. 

Upon  the  fifth  of  October,  1886, 1  gave  the  follow- 
ing address  to  my  father  and  other  pioneers  on  the 
fiftieth  anniversary  of  his  arrival  upon  the  land 
that  became  his  future  home : 

We  assemble  at  this  time  to  commemorate  an 
eventful  day  in  my  father's  life,  to  celebrate  the 
anniversary  of  fifty  years  of  the  history  of  Oneida, 
to  recall  the  early  events  of  that  history  and  to 
reflect  upon  the  wondrous  changes  which  these 
sturdy  pioneers  have  helped  to  bring  about  in  this 
wonderful  age  in  which  we  live. 

To  all  of  you,  then,  hardy  pioneers,  who  forsook 
the  homes  of  your  youth  and  the  privileges  of 
society  to  penetrate  this  limitless  wilderness,  hoping 
to  provide  better  homes  and  privileges  for  your 
yet  unborn  children  and  grandchildren,  to  you  who 
suffered  the  cares,  privations  and  hardships  which 
only  pioneers  of  your  day  could  suffer  and  endure, 
I  extend,  in  the  name  of  your  posterity,  our  congrat- 
ulations and  our  thanks,  and  the  words  I  address 
to  my  father  I  speak  to  you,  one  and  all. 

Fifty  years  ago  this  evening  you,  with  Uncle 
George,  Peter  Kent  and  Mr.  Groger,  might  have 



been  seen  wending  your  way  directly  southward 
near  where  our  church  now  stands,  with  no  path- 
way within  miles  of  you  except  the  blazed  trees 
of  the  government  survey.  Fifty  years  ago  this 
night  you  encamped  on  the  land  which  has  since 
been  your  own.  With  the  rising  sun  of  the  morn 
you  encompassed  this  square  mile  of  land  which 
you  then  selected.  Peter  Kent  chose  the  two  half 
sections  between  which  he  had  last  passed  before 
reaching  this.  Other  land  had  been  taken  in  the 
township  by  speculators,  but  this  is  believed  to  be 
the  first  land  located  in  town  by  those  who  became 
actual  settlers.  It  certainly  is  the  first  located 
still  owned  and  occupied  by  the  prospector  who 
selected  it  in  the  midst  of  a  howling  wilderness  fifty 
years  ago.  Thus  you  are  the  first  visitor  who  be- 
came a  permanent  settler  and  who  still  remains, 
and  you  are  perhaps  the  only  man  living  who  had 
set  foot  in  Oneida  fifty  years  ago.  Others,  who 
are  still  your  neighbors,  located  land  in  town  the 
self-same  week  and  the  history  of  civilization  in 
Oneida  begins  with  this  time.  After  making  your 
selection  of  land  you  returned  by  the  same  route 
you  came,  crossing  Grand  River  and  reaching  the 
nearest  house,  ten  miles  distant,  in  Eagle,  at  3 
o  'clock  in  the  afternoon  and  then  partook  of  the  first 
meal  you  had  tasted  since  the  morning  of  the  day 
before.     Thus  you  began  your  history  here. 

You  wisely  took  a  vacation    of    one  and  a  half 
years   before    making   permanent    settlement,    and 


meantime  neighbors  had  preceded  you.  Solomon 
Russell,  cutting  his  way  from  the  north  through 
eight  miles  of  trackless  wilderness  and  settling  on 
his  land  one  mile  north  of  this,  was  the  first  in 
town  to  erect  a  habitation.  Fifty  years  ago  next 
March  Uncle  Samuel  Preston  coming  in  but  a  few 
days  after  Mr.  Russell  and,  cutting  his  path  through 
eight  miles  of  forest  from  the  nearest  settlement  in 
the  southwest  and  settling  a  half  mile  west  of  here, 
believed  himself  the  first  settler  until  some  weeks 
later  he  learned  of  his  neighbor  Russell. 

Canada  settlement  was  formed  but  a  few  weeks 
later,  in  early  springtime  1837,  by  Uncle  "Walker 
Nichols  and  his  boys — yes,  the  boys — we  call  them 
uncle  now,  (three  of  them  have  gone  to  their  long 
home  and  three  remain,  are  with  us  still,  with  their 
children,  their  grandchildren — aye,  and  their  great 
grandchildren, — so  rapidly  do  the  generations  pass, 
so  long  a  time  is  half  a  century)  and  the  Nixon 
boys,  four  brothers.  Uncle  Robert,  James  and  John 
and  Uncle  Sam  (now  just  two-thirds  the  age  of  his 
great  namesake)  and  in  a  few  short  weeks  they 
can  celebrate  the  semi-centennial  of  their  perma- 
nent settlement  here  and  the  unbroken  band  of 
brothers  yet  remains,  and  three  of  them  still  own 
the  land  on  which  they  first  settled  fifty  years  ago. 

"V\^ien  a  year  later,  in  June,  1838,  you  returned 
to  settle  permanently  here  and  when,  on  the  first 
Sunday  you  spent  in  town,  you  attended  religious 
meeting  at  Mr.  Huckins'  house,  where  Mr.  Brunger 


now  lives,  although  barefooted  and  clad  only  with 
homespun  shirt  and  pants,  you  were  respectably 
dressed  and  cordially  welcomed  by  the  new  neigh- 
bors among  whom  you  have  now  dwelt  so  long  and 
so  many  of  whom  you  have  long  outlived. 

A  lone  bachelor;  for  two  years  you  boarded  with 
Uncle  Samuel  Preston  and  one  of  the  most  import- 
ant events,  in  all  this  history,  to  you — and  certainly 
to  me — is  that  there  you  met  his  wife's  sister  and 
forty-six  years  ago  you  joined  her  in  holy  matri- 
mony. Thirty-six  years  ago  your  fourth  and  young- 
est child  was  born.  An  anniversary  day  indeed  is 
this  to  you  and  yours. 

It  is  not  a  great  or  remarkable  thing  to  live  for 
fifty  years,  but  when  a  man  who  has  already  reached 
half  of  the  allotted  span  of  life  forsakes  all  the 
scenes  and  ties  of  his  youth  and  early  manhood, 
journeys  to  a  distant  realm,  and  there  takes  up 
a  new  mode  of  life  and  there  abides  for  fifty  years 
and  thus  outlives  all  that  he  had  known  before  and 
all  the  modes  of  life  and  labor  which  before  were 
known,  it  is  indeed  remarkable.  This  fifty  years  has 
brought  to  you,  we  almost  say,  a  new  life.  Not  a 
person,  a  place  or  scarce  a  thing  that  you  had  seen 
before  fifty  years  ago  will  you  ever  see  again.  It 
is  to  you  a  new  world,  and  how  different  is  the 
world  from  that  in  which  your  youth  was  spent. 

The  pioneer  of  one  or  two  hundred  years  ago, 
who  settled  in  the  then  wild-wood  of  New  England 
or  New  York,  and  who  there  lived  for  fifty  years. 


left  his  grandchildren  dwelling  in  the  same  kind 
of  house,  enjoying  the  same  kind  of  comforts, 
toiling  with  the  same  kind  of  tools,  learning  at  the 
same  labored  length  the  same  round  of  r's  that 
his  grandfathers  had  learned  and  known  before  him. 
The  pioneer  of  today  is  not  a  pioneer.  He  follows 
w^estward  in  the  wake  of  the  railway  and  the  tele- 
graph. He  settles  on  the  plains  and  turns  the  virgin 
sod  with  steam ;  he  speaks  in  the  telephone  and  talks 
with  friends  a  thousand  miles  behind;  he  finds  the 
comforts  and  the  luxuries  of  civilization  on  the  plain 
and  in  the  hills  before  him.  You  have  lived  in  the 
transition  period.  In  the  first  half  of  your  life  you 
were  familiar  with  the  modes  and  manners  which 
had  prevailed  for  ages.  You  have  lived  to  see  the 
most  marvelous  era  of  discovery  and  invention, 
perhaps,  that  the  world  will  ever  know.  As  the 
sixteenth  century  will  ever  be  remembered  for  its 
wondrous  intellectual  awakening,  so  will  the  last 
half  century  through  which  you  have  lived  be  cele- 
brated through  all  time  for  its  marvelous  material 


The  farm  house  of  fifty  years  ago  had  doors  and 
floors  of  boards  not  sawed  but  riven  from  the  body 
of  the  tree,  and  the  roof  sometimes  of  shakes  and 
sometimes  of  bark.  It  often  consisted  of  but  a 
single  room  in  which  large  families  were  reared, 
and  where  there  was  always  room  to  lodge  the 
stranger.  The  only  fireplace,  if  built  of  bricks  in- 
stead of  mud  and  sticks,  was  of  the  better  class. 


For  more  than  half  your  life  your  food  was  cooked 
by  the  open  fireplace,  while  the  cook  stove  is  of 
so  recent  origin  I  well  remember  the  first  one  ever 
brought  to  this  town;  in  fact  it  is  still  in  use. 

Fifty  years  ago  the  farmer  raised  the  hemp  and 
flax,  which,  as  well  as  wool,  was  spun  and  woven  by 
his  wife  and  daughters;  thus  all  their  clothes  were 
made  unless,  in  their  excess  of  pride,  some  garments 
of  boughten  but  hand-printed  calico  were  added  to 
the  trousseau ;  and  so  near  did  that  era  of  domestic 
simplicity  and  industry  reach  to  the  present  time 
that  I  well  remember  in  my  own  joyous  courting 
visits  I  wore  the  pantaloons  my  mother's  hand  had 
carded  and  spun  and  cut  and  made,  while  a  kindly 
neighbor  did  the  weaving  and  I  took  the  cloth,  on 
horseback,  to  Portland  to  have  it  fulled  (a  finish 
fitting  for  a  dude,  had  that  creature  in  that  day 
been  created).  If  the  farmer  did  not  make  his  own 
shoes  they  were  made  in  his  house,  both  upon  the 
same  last,  and  by  the  shoemaker  who  took  his  pay 
in  pork  and  corn. 

All  these  domestic  industries  are  now  well  nigh 
forgotten.  The  sewing  machine,  invented  five  years 
after  you  came  here  and  now  found  in  the  homes  of 
the  poorest,  has  exceeded  the  fondest  hopes  of  the 
inventor  and  has  given  to  our  daughters  literary 
societies  and  library  associations  in  place  of  the 
old-time  spinning  and  sewing  contests,  while  the 
myriads  of  applications  of  steam  machinery  now 
supply  our  homes  with  a  hundred  things  which  you 


were  wont  to  carve  by  hand,  and  with  thousands  of 
toys,  trinkets  and  useful  tools  which  were  not 
dreamed  of  in  your  philosophies  of  fifty  years  ago. 
As  long  as  you  retained  your  strength  to  toil  you 
mowed  your  grass,  spread  it  in  the  sun,  raked  it 
by  hand  and  pitched  it  away  as  it  had  been  done  for 
generations  before  you.  You  have  lived  to  see 
all  this  labor  a  thing  of  the  past.  The  horse  now 
does  the  cutting  and  spreading,  the  raking  and  pitch- 
ing, and  already  the  shrill  scream  of  the  steam 
engine  is  heard  as  it  comes  with  heated  breath  to 
distance  the  horse  and  displace  all  his  methods :  cut- 
ting the  green  grass  and  packing  it  away  in  the  silo, 
turning  the  sod,  acres  in  a  day,  and  threshing  in  a 
single  day  the  many  hundred  bushels  of  grain  which 
would  have  given  labor  to  man  the  long  winter 
through  but  fifty  years  ago. 

You  brought  with  you  here  the  sickle  your  father 
USED.  I  well  remember  seeing  you  with  it,  bending 
your  weary  back  and  gathering  the  golden  grain. 
You  lived  to  see  the  invention  of  the  turkey-wing, 
and  the  many  more  modern  crooked  handled  cradles, 
and  you  have  lived  to  see  them  all  displaced  succes- 
sively by  the  reaper,  self-rake  and  dropper.  Marsh 
harvester,  and  that  triumph  of  agricultural  imple- 
ments, the  twine  binding  harvester.  But  more 
wonderful  still,  you  have  lived  to  see  the  farmer  re- 
mould THE  VERY  animals  the  Creator  had  given  him ; 
to  change  the  sheep's  fleece,  within  your  own  re- 
membrance, from  two  pounds  two  ounces  to  twenty 


times  that  amount.  You  have  seen  the  hog  devel- 
oped from  an  animal  that  '  *  could  clear  a  five-barred 
gate  at  a  bound"  into  one  which  seems  to  need 
scarcely  more  than  to  be  encased  in  staves  to  be 
transformed  into  a  tub  of  lard.  You  have  seen  the 
draft  horse  developed  to  a  weight  of  more  than  a 
ton,  while  the  driving  horse,  the  most  beautiful  of 
created  animals,  has  been  taught  to  forsake  his 
natural  gait  for  the  more  graceful  trot  and  at  this  to 
acquire  a  speed  of  a  mile  in  two  minutes  and  six 
seconds.  The  ox  has  been  bred  to  take  on  the  un- 
natural weight  of  4,000  pounds.  The  marvelous 
cow  of  fifty  years  ago  yielded  a  pound  of  butter  per 
day.  The  improved  cow  now  yields  over  14,000 
pounds  of  milk  per  annum,  from  which  over  850 
pounds  of  butter  can  be  made  or  over  25  pounds  of 
butter  in  a  single  week,*  while  the  grasping  Yankee, 
not  contented  with  this,  makes  oleomargarine  from 
her  carcass  and  butterine  from  the  butchered  pig. 
Other  industries  are  no  less  active.  You  have 
seen  lumber  cut  with  a  whipsaw,  by  one  man  stand- 
ing beneath  the  log  and  another  on  top.  A  modern 
Michigan  mill  of  not  uncommon  size  has  cut  442,000 
feet  in  eleven  hours — 40,000  feet  per  hour.  Fifty 
years  ago  the  wagon-maker  would  fell  an  oak  tree 
for  his  timber  and  with  his  hands  construct  every 
part  of  a  wagon,  using  his  foot  only  to  aid  in  turn- 

*These  were  the  best  records  in  1886.     The  speed  record  has 
been  diminished  and  the  milk  record  marvelously  increased. 


ing  out  the  hubs.  Today  a  modern  factory  turns  out 
seventeen  wagons  per  day  and  not  one  of  the  numer- 
ous workmen  employed  could  make  a  wagon,  and 
scores  contribute  to  a  single  wheel.  Clothes-pins 
were  unknown  and  unnecessary  to  fasten  clothes  to 
the  pole  on  which  Mary  Jane,  way  down  the  lane, 
hung  our  childhood  clothes  a  drying.  Today  a  log, 
weighing  a  full  ton,  is  drawn  into  a  mill  and  in 
twenty  minutes  the  whole  of  it  is  transformed  into 
clothes-pins,  saving  only  the  saw-dust  and  shavings 
and  these  suffice  to  furnish  fuel  to  feed  the  flames  to 
furnish  force  sufficient  for  the  factory.  But  why 
multiply  illustrations  of  improved  mechanical 
methods?  A  day,  nay  a  year,  would  scarce  suffice 
to  name  the  numerous  applications  of  machinery 
and  steam  power  in  ministering  to  the  wants  of 

In  your  youthtime  manual  labor  was,  as  it  had 
been  through  all  ages,  the  main  force  in  production. 
You  have  lived  to  see  the  substitution  of  horse 
power  and  to  see  it  supplanted  by  steam.  How  near 
we  are  now  living  to  the  close  of  the  steam  age  no 
man  can  foretell,  but  certain  it  is  you  have  lived  to 
see  the  dawn  of  the  electrical  era.  Fifty  years 
ago  electricity  as  a  useful  agent  was  entirely  un- 
known. Today  its  adoption  promises  to  revolution- 
ize all  our  industries.  Already  it  lights  our  homes, 
transmits  our  voices,  aye  and  the  image  of  our 
countenances  across  a  continent,  while  the  whole 
earth  seems  like  a  tliino-  of  life  with  a  vast  net  work 


of  electric  wires  like  a  nervous  system  transmitting 
the  thoughts  and  feelings  from  every  intelligence 
to  the  remotest  members,  while  the  steam  railway 
like  an  arterial  system  conveys  the  life  blood  of  com- 
merce to  every  part.  If  Earth's  cuticle  be  ruptured 
kerosene  oozes  forth  and  from  deeper  gashes  flow 
the  precious  metals  in  abundance,  while  the  sweat  of 
her  summer  yields  the  glad  harvest.  Her  long  un- 
known tones  of  thunder  are  now  translated,  and 
transmitted  by  telephone,  and  with  myriads  of  steam 
whistles  she  laughs  at  her  children's  triumphs  in 
catching,  controlling  and  training  the  forces  of 
nature  to  do  their  bidding  and  to  render  glad  ser- 
vice to  man. 


made  its  trial  trip  but  six  years  before  you  came  to 
Michigan.  Today  the  railways  of  the  world  are  of 
sufficient  length  to  encircle  the  earth  at  its  equator 
twelve  times  and  the  half  of  all  this  mileage  is  in  our 
beloved  country.  The  telegraph,  invented  the  very 
year  you  came  to  Michigan,  was  not  in  practical  use 
until  eight  years  later.  The  telephone  and  phono- 
graph neither  is  yet  ten  years  old.  The  one  entombs 
our  very  voices  that  our  posterity  may  resurrect 
them  at  pleasure  unnumbered  ages  hence.  The  other 
is  in  constant  use  in  every  city  and  village  in  the 
land  and  has  already  revolutionized  business 
methods.  Repeating  firearms,  gatling  guns,  dyna- 
mite and  nitro-glycerine,  iron-clad  ships,  steel- 
armored  ships  with  revolving  metalic  turrets,  re- 


volving  forts,  ship  canals,  ship  railways,  marine 
torpedoes  and  submarine  navigation  all  belong  to 
the  age  of  which  you,  hardy  pioneers,  have  been 
and  done  a  part,  a  great,  a  noble  part ;  without  you 
these  things  would  not,  could  not  have  been. 

While  the  material  progress  of  this  time  may  well 
be  the  marvel  of  the  ages,  the  intellectual  and 
MORAL  PROGRESS  lias  bccu  also  marked.  Means  for 
increasing  and  disseminating  knowledge  have  de- 
veloped on  every  hand.  The  man  lived  until  this 
year  who  invented  the  first  postage  stamp,  while 
our  postal  system  is  now  the  wonder  of  the  world, 
The  whole  number  of  pieces  mailed  in  the  United 
States  for  fifty  years  before  you  came  to  Michigan 
was  less  than  100,000,000,  while  this  year  the  pieces 
mailed  in  Boston  alone  is  more  than  twice  that 
number.  Nine  rates  of  postage  were  charged  you 
fifty  years  ago,  varying  from  six  cents  for  letters 
carried  less  than  thirty  miles  to  twenty-five  cents 
for  those  carried  450  miles.  The  postoifice,  for  the 
use  of  the  people,  is  the  product  of  the  present  gen- 

,  The  newspaper,  that  wondrous  lever  of  civiliza- 
tion, (formerly  published  generally  by  the  post- 
masters of  the  several  cities  and  all  papers  but 
theirs  excluded  from  the  mails),  was  still  an  experi- 
ment fifty  years  ago.  No  paper  in  America  at  that 
time  had  a  circulation  of  5,000  copies.  The  first 
religious  newspaper  in  America  was  at  that  time 
but  twenty-one  years  old  and  the  first  agricultural 


newspaper  was  barely  eighteen.  Today  every  ham- 
let publishes  a  local  paper  and  the  great  city  dailies 
are  borne  on  the  wrings  of  the  morning  almost 
wherever  man  may  tread.  Over  2,000  million  copies 
are  issued  annually  in  this  country  or  over  forty 
copies  for  each  man,  woman  and  child  in  America ; 
and  any  man  in  town  may,  at  his  breakfast  table, 
read  of  every  important  event  that  took  place  in  any 
capital  on  earth  but  the  day  before.  Surely  the  day 
dawns  when  we  should  be  brethren  to  all  mankind. 

Fifty  years  ago  the  Bible,  Fox 's  Book  of  Martyrs 
and  an  almanac  formed  a  library.  Today  our  homes 
are  filled  with  books  and  a  half  dozen  papers  are 
often  regular  and  welcome  visitors  at  the  farmer's 

Fifty  years  ago  the  three  r's  formed  the  curricu- 
lum in  your  schools.  Today  our  country  district 
schools  add  to  these  not  only  geography  and  English 
language  but  U.  S.  history,  science  of  government, 
natural  philosophy,  algebra,  physiology  and  natural 
history,  and  a  child  of  fourteen  years  already  has 
a  smattering  of  all  of  these. 

Fifty  years  ago  our  colleges  taught  little  but  the 
mythical  language  and  legends  of  ancient  Greece  and 
Rome.  Today  Nature's  labratory  is  opened  for  our 
inspection.  Truths  were  concealed  for  ages  in  the 
GREAT  BOOKS  OF  THE  ROCKS,  rills  and  vales  which  are 
now  opened  displaying  their  beautifully  illustrated 
pages  and  attractive  type  while  teachers,  ready  to 
translate  their  entrancing  tales  and  teach  their  lore. 


are  ever  ready  inviting  us  to  read.  The  spectro- 
scope reveals  to  us  the  composition  of  the  very  stars. 
Old  Astronomy  has  received  and  sheds  a  flood  of 
new  light.  Geology,  the  youngest  of  the  sisterhood 
of  sciences,  adorned  with  jeweled  robes,  woos  us 
with  silver  tones  to  listen  to  the  poem  of  old  Earth's 
early  life.  Chemistry  reveals  a  flood  of  newly  dis- 
covered, useful,  practical  knowledge  every  year. 

Light,  heat  and  electricity,  with  their  ever  varying 
iridescence,  invite  us  to  pursue,  among  the  fleeting 
shadows,  the  glittering  flashes,  they  now  and  then 
reveal,  of  the  infinitude  of  light  and  truth  beyond. 
Acoustics  has  its  time-tried  theories  torn  asunder 
but  with  a  tide  of  truth  just  yet  concealed  beyond 
the  ken  of  mortal  man. 

Politico-economic  science  is  sighing  for  a  teacher 
able  to  expound  its  truths.  Evolution  no  longer 
startles  us  with  its  assumptions,  but  its  probabilities 
are  conceded  by  every  great  living  naturalist  on 
either  side  the  ocean.  Even  medicine  promises  yet 
to  become  a  science. 

Ministers  of  the  Gospel  are  learning  to  proclaim 
the  glorious  teachings  of  our  Savior  instead  of  con- 
tending for  dogmatic  platitudes  which  they  never 
understood,  and  Christianity  is  awakening  to  the 
import  of  its  divine  Founder's  last  command. 
Slavery  is  swept  from  our  land,  and  the  hydra- 
headed  monster.  Intemperance,  is  grappling  in  the 
throes  of  death  with  the  better  sentiment  of  the 
last  quarter  of  the  grandest  of  centuries. 


This  is  emphatically  the  age  of  progkess.  Other 
ages  have  exhibited  giant  movements  and  agitations, 
but  these  have  been  principally  conflicts  and  revolu- 
tions. The  movements  of  this  have  been  marches^ 
its  agitations  advances.  The  progress  made  has 
been  so  rapid  and  universal  that  the  people  stand 
amazed  at  their  own  triumphs  and  question  whether 
they  have  not  nearly  reached  the  limit  of  possible 
advancement.  Still  the  battle  cry  of  the  world  is 
ONWARD.  Can  we  doubt  that  this  spirit  is  to  con- 
tinue through  countless  ages,  that  other  centuries 
shall  stand  as  far  in  advance  of  this  as  this  now  is 
beyond  its  predecessors?  You  have  witnessed  the 
kindling  of  the  intellectual  fires  which  are  des- 
tined to  burn  on  through  futurity  with  a  brighter, 
steadier  flame  until  the  end  of  time.  The  portals 
of  the  great  intellectual  realm  have  been  thrown 
wide  open  and,  as  we  explore  its  vistas,  broader  and 
deeper  flow  the  streams  of  thought ;  wider  and  more 
fertile  seem  the  fields  of  that  realm;  more  glorious 
seems  the  sky  o'erhead  and  more  boundless  and 
harmonious  the  paths  before,  until  the  ends  thereof 
or  the  glories  of  their  unexplored  labyrinths  no  man 
can  conceive. 

A  half  a  century  of  time, 
Oh!  what  a  theme,  for  prose  or  rhyme, 
Is  such   a  century. 

When  here  you  came  in  Autumn  time, 
And  chose  this  land  and  climate  fine, 
You  pitched  your  tent,  at   evening  time. 
For  half  a  century. 


When  here  you  laid  j'ou  down  to  rest 
Your  head  no  downy  pillow  pressed; 
What  hopes,  were  forming   in  your  hreast, 
•Of  half  a  century! 

The  night  wind  whispered  "Rest  in  peace, 
"The  rising  sun  will  bring  no  ease, 
"But  lead  to  labors  not  to  cease 
"For  half  a  century." 

The  forest  spoke  of  endless  toil, 
The  bears  and  wolves  would  make  turmoil, 
Your  only  thought  was  from  the  soil, 
With  ceaseless  toil. 

To  wrest  a  competence. 

When  here  again  you  came  alone. 
To  change  the  forest  to  a  home, 
You'd  heard  of  Adam  and  his  bone 
And  how  alone 

It  was  not  good  to  live. 

And  when  you  met  a  maiden  fair, 
With  hazel  eye  and  auburn  hair, 
She  looked  to  you  as  maidens  rare, 
Discreet  and  fair, 

Will  always  look  to  men. 

And  when  you'd  won  her  prudent  hand 
And  she  had  joined  you  on  this  land 
She  brought  to  you  a  precious  band, 
A  merry  band. 

Of  children  such  as  we. 

A  helpmete  true  she  has  always  been, 
A  precious  mother  now  as  when 
She  nursed  us  at  her  breast  or  when, 
Oft  and  again, 

iShe   taught   us   at   her   knee. 

The  old  log  house  we  well  recall 

Its  furniture,  you  made  it  all; 

Hewed   down  the   logs  and  chinked   the  wall; 

It  does  recall 

Long  memories. 


Your  brothers  came  to  share  your  home, 
Join  In  your  cares  and  help  to  roam 
The  forest,  vast  and  all  unknown, 
And  bring  you  home 

Fresh  store  of  venison. 

Long  hardships  now  you  may  recall; 
Driving  an  ox  team  in  the  fall, 
Full  fifty  miles  (you  walked  it  all). 
To  reach  the  fall 

Where  ran  the  watermill. 

Here  you  have  felled  the  forest  king; 
Here  you  have  watched,  upon  the  wing. 
The   storm   birds  and   the   birds   of  spring 
And    everything 

That  makes  us  love  this  life. 

Here  you  have  toiled   the   long  days  through 
Mid  stumps  and  logs  and  briars  too. 
Treading  at   early   morn   the    dew 
When,  all  night  through, 

Fever  with  ague  vied. 

Sickness  and   accidents,   a   share 
Has  fallen  to  your  lot,  and  care, 
But   ne'r   complaint   heard    anywhere; 
Stout  heart  was  there 

In  all  adversities. 

Weddings  have  come,  too,  with  their  cheer; 
And  death  has  wrung  from  you  a  tear, 
Your  youngest  son  lies  buried  here 
After  so  brief  career 

And  yet  how  grand  a  life. 

Grandchildren,  too,  have  gone  before; 
You'll  meet  glad  welcome  on  that  shore 
From  whence  no  traveler,  heretofore 
Or  evermore, 

iShall  come  again  to  earth. 


Others  may  live  as  long  we  know, 
Perhaps  more  griefs  and  sorrows  know, 
But  none  again  can  undergo. 
While  here  ibelow. 

The  hardships  you  have  seen. 

To  change  a  forest  into  farms, 
With  strong  right  hand  and  brawny  arms. 
While  wife  and  children  dread  alarms. 
And  savage  harms. 

And  wildwood  miseries. 

Is  done  but  once  in  any  place; 
And  not  another  age  or  race 
Can  here  again  your  works  replace, 
Or   steps   retrace, 

For  half  a  century. 

Your  labors  here  are  nearly  done. 
Your  race  on  earth  is  nearly  run, 
The  Master  soon  will  call  you  home 
And  say  "Well  done, 

"Enter  the  joy  prepared." 

But  memory  will  linger  still 
About  your  grave;   and  many  will 
Come  after  you,  but  none  can  fill 
The   place   you   filled 

For  half  a  century. 

And  may  the  good  deeds  you  have  done 
Be  ne'er  forgotten  by  your  son, 
But  like  the  waves  caused  by  a  stone 
Their  influence  run 

Through  many  centuries. 


The  Eaton  County  Pioneer  Society  doubtless  owes 
its  origin  to  Henry  A.  Shaw,  Esq.,  of  Eaton  Rapids, 
more  than  to  any  other.  A  meeting  was  called  at 
his  office  on  January  6th,  1872,  for  the  purpose  of 
organizing  a  Pioneer  Society. 

Hon.  John  Montgomery  was  made  chairman  of 
the  meeting  and  G.  W.  Knight,  secretary.  H.  A. 
Shaw,  Joel  Latson  and  J.  W.  Toles  were  appointed 
a  committee  to  make  arrangements  for  the  first 
meeting,  to  be  held  at  Eaton  Rapids  February  22, 

A  constitution  was  then  adopted  providing, 
among  other  things,  ''This  association  shall  be 
known  as  the  Pioneer  Society  of  Eaton  and  Ingham 
Counties.  Any  person  having  resided  continuously 
in  the  State  since  1847,  and  being  now  a  resident  of 
either  of  these  two  counties,  is  eligible  to  member- 
ship." At  this  first  annual  meeting  John  Mont- 
gomery was  elected  President;  R.  W.  Griswold, 
Vice  President ;  and  G.  W.  Knight,  Secretary. 

The  second  annual  meeting  was  held  at  Charlotte, 
February  24,  1873,  when  S.  S.  Church  of  Vermont- 
ville  was  elected  President. 

The  third  annual  meeting  was  held  at  Eaton  Rap- 
ids, February  25,  1874.  Hon.  Austin  Blair  related 
interesting  early  experiences,  and  he  was  followed 



by  others.  At  tliis  meeting  the  constitution  was 
amended  to  provide  for  meetings  in  June  instead 
of  February.  Jesse  Hart  of  Brookfield  was  elected 

Two  meetings  were  held  in  1874,  the  second  at 
Vermontville  when  Fitz  L.  Eeed  of  Olivet  was 
elected  President. 

The  fourth  annual  meeting  was  held  on  the  fair 
grounds  at  Charlotte  and  subsequent  meetings  were 
held  at  the  same  place  until  1922,  when  a  fiftieth 
anniversary  meeting  was  held  at  Eaton  Rapids  on 
February  22d. 

The  Presidents  of  the  Society  from  1875  have  been 
as  follows :  I.  E.  C.  Hickok,  Osman  Chappell,  G.  T. 
Rand,  Esek  Pray,  George  N.  Potter,  George  W. 
Nichols  and  others.  Elisha  Shepherd  was  a  most 
efficient  President  for  many  years  and  Ernest  Pray 
for  several. 

George  A.  Perry  was  a  most  satisfactory  Secre- 
tary for  many  years.  After  him  the  secretaries' 
books  were  lost  so  this  report  must  be  fragmentary. 

At  the  annual  meeting  in  Charlotte,  1921,  Daniel 
Strange,  then  President,  was  elected  Historian,  and 
he  at  once  set  about  the  compilation  of  this  history. 
Frank  A.  Dean  was  then  elected  President,  and 
Frank  N.  Green,  Vice  President,  and  Cynthia  A. 
Green,  Secretary. 

At  the  annual  meeting  in  1922,  Frank  N.  Green 
presiding,  it  was  voted  to  publish  the  Pioneer  His- 
tory of  the  County.    It  was  also  voted  to  hold  the 


annual  meeting  of  1923  at  Bellevue  to  celebrate  the 
ninetieth  anniversary  of  the  first  settlement  in  the 
county  at  that  place.  The  following  officers  were 
elected:  Frank  N.  Green,  Olivet,  President;  Nelson 
L.  Smith,  Charlotte,  Vice  President;  Cynthia  A. 
Green,  Charlotte,  Secretary. 

Ingham  County  had  never  joined  with  Eaton 
County  in  these  celebrations  and  at  the  Bellevue 
meeting  in  1923,  it  was  voted  to  adopt  the  more 
fit  name  of  Eaton  County  Pioneer  and  Historical 
Society.  The  officers  last  named  were  re-elected 
together  with  A.  B.  Barnum  for  many  years  a  most 
efficient  Treasurer.